3 Strategies for Union Leaders to Mobilize Gig Workers

Over the past few years, the gig economy has become increasingly popular, with more than one-third of all U.S. workers participating in gig work as their primary or secondary source of employment. According to Gallup, gig workers include independent contractors, those with conditional or short-term working relationships, and those in mobile or platform-based gig work. These consist of ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, food delivery including Instacart and Doordash, and freelance support like TaskRabbit.

Because of this influx, gig workers continue to fight for employment rights and policy changes, which has resulted in the creation of unions and labor activists to protect the gig workforce. In April of 2021, the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights anticipated a $100 million-plus campaign to fight Uber, Lyft, as well as other gig-economy companies. Etsy’s sellers are the latest to consider unionization after Kristi Cassidy organized a weeklong Etsy seller strike to encourage negotiations surrounding Etsy’s 30% seller transaction fee increase. 

As millions of dollars and hours are spent fighting for the gig workforce – without clear lines of communication between union leaders and gig workers, as well as an understanding of gig workers’ diverse wants and needs – mobilization efforts risk falling flat. 

Equip your members for economic success. While advocating for gig workers’ rights, union leaders must focus on three key strategies to ignite and maximize member mobilization: 

  • Building community through a digital organization
  • Understanding and measuring member sentiment
  • Reaching gig workers with information and resources 

1. Build a thriving digital community experience for information & knowledge sharing 

As the expert in cultivating community and spearheading mobilization, gig workers expect their union leaders to curate and drive a safe environment for them to network and share their concerns and stories. And with 86% of freelancers feeling optimistic about the future of freelancing, this is the perfect time to inspire members to step out of their silos and develop a new sense of belonging within the gig economy space. Equip members with the tools to build unique subgroups and micro-communities while empowering them to find other members with similar interests and backgrounds.

The common ties can derive from working for the same company, living in a similar geographic location, or even shared experiences, such as “gig working moms” or “working college students.” The more camaraderie leaders can foster among members, the more members will feel like a pivotal part of the collective. And nothing motivates members to get involved like a newly-lit passion for self and peer advocacy.

2. Measure member sentiment to unlock new opportunities and solutions 

As your community gains traction, will your leadership team have a way to know what’s most important to your community members instantly? While this information is critical to a successful and active gig-worker community, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach members and understand how they feel, what matters most to them, and where they engage or fall off.

Without capturing the latest insights, we’d never know that:

  • 47% of gig workers’ biggest concern with their work is the lack of predictable income
  • 63% of Gen X workers are struggling financially
  • Or that female freelancers earn 84% less than men

By utilizing an authenticated digital community, access metrics to identify which topics matter most to members, learn what resources members find the most beneficial, and even determine which events trend the highest. This way, leaders can identify gig workers, like Cassidy, who are particularly active online–making it easy to find prospective leaders who can champion future mobilization efforts.

3. Precisely reach members with targeted information to empower economic success 

The global gig economy is estimated to be worth nearly $350 billion, with U.S. customers contributing to 44% of the global gig gross volume. Your members are contributing to a multi-billion dollar industry, and more than half of the dollars of the global gig economy are in the U.S. – they deserve every chance to advocate for more when it comes to fair earnings, benefits, and better working conditions.

In this fastly growing and competitive market, connecting your members with personalized opportunities and targeted resources to keep them up-to-date on the latest news, events, and initiatives within your union is crucial. So why not do it within one central hub? By adopting a gig-worker community platform, you’ll be facilitating the most effective and convenient way for members to connect, realize a sense of belonging, stay educated, and take advantage of all the available opportunities.