Why a VC who backed Amazon and a labor leader are teaming up for workers’ rights

Nick Hanauer and David Rolf are an unlikely pair of troublemakers. Hanauer is a Seattle venture capitalist and was the first non-family investor in Amazon.com. David Rolf is a labor organizer who once rallied enough support to unionize 74,000 home health care workers in Los Angeles.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: venturebeat.com

Nick Hanauer and David Rolf are an unlikely pair of troublemakers. Hanauer is a Seattle venture capitalist and was the first non-family investor in Amazon.com. David Rolf is a labor organizer who once rallied enough support to unionize 74,000 home health care workers in Los Angeles.   Yet the two of them agree on one thing: We need to pay part-time workers better, and provide better benefits. And they’ve teamed up to start a campaign to make that happen.   Their argument could slash the profitability (or future profitability) of many tech startups, including Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and more. But it might also ensure the continued existence of a robust middle class, even in an era in which most of us work part-time or contract jobs for companies like Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit. And those companies actually require middle-class people to be their customers, so it might be win-win in the end.     Bear with me, tech execs and captains of Silicon Valley. This might sound like some kind of socialism, but it’s not. Hanauer and Rolf say it’s about ensuring the future of work — and the viability of companies that depend on having a U.S. market for their services.   “All of the people I employ at startups can afford to go to Starbucks every day. But none of the people who work at Starbucks can afford to buy the products that we make,” Hanauer explained in a recent conversation.  That’s a problem that even Henry Ford recognized: You need to pay auto workers enough so they can afford to buy your cars or you’re not going to have a market for your product for very long.  Establishing better pay and better benefits will help preserve a robust middle class, even as many people increasingly work in what’s called the “1099 economy,” named after the tax form that independent contractors get at the end of each year.   The duo recently published an article in the journal Democracy called “Shared Security, Shared Growth.” In it, they propose raising the minimum wage to $15. They think there should be mandatory overtime pay for anyone making less than $69,000 a year, far higher than the current threshold of $23,000.  The duo recently published an article in the journal Democracy called “Shared Security, Shared Growth.” In it, they propose raising the minimum wage to $15. They think there should be mandatory overtime pay for anyone making less than $69,000 a year, far higher than the current threshold of $23,000.  And they propose a “Shared Security System,” somewhat like Social Security, except that in addition to providing retirement benefits, it also provides a way to fund vacation time, sick pay, and a host of other benefits to all people, including part-time workers.

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