Dawn Gearhart is a representative, organizer, and lobbyist at Teamsters Local 117 in Seattle. She Graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations and provided research assistance at the United Nations I.L.O. She is the organizer for the app-based Driver’s Association which provides legal, political, and administrative support to for-hire drivers in Washington State. She also represents members of the Western Washington Taxicab Operator’s Association. Together, the two associations use innovative labor and policy approaches to provide a voice for nearly 2,000 drivers working in the emerging gig economy.
Since the recession, the “gig economy” has grown prodigiously and is projected to continue to do so. In addition to disrupting conventional business models, it appears that many of the companies like Uber or TaskRabbit, and the technologies that they rely on, are exacerbating the disempowerment of workers. As more and more individuals work in the “gig economy,” lacking formal employment status, what are the consequences for labor rights and economic inequality more broadly? Dawn will discuss the effects of these emerging technologies on workers and local economies. She’ll describe the work of the Teamsters Local 117 in Seattle, looking at inventive organizing strategies to use platform technology to advance worker rights.