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Activist gig workers seek to form nonprofit to support fellow workers

Megan Rose Dickey
MENLO PARK, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Instacart shopper Vanessa Bain shops for a customer at the Safeway in Menlo Park, California. Bain began a campaign that would lead to a Facebook group of 14,000 Instacart shoppers, about 10 percent of the nationwide total when the company started using default design tricks to decrease the amount shoppers can earn in tips. (Photo by Nick Otto for the Washington Post)

Vanessa Bain (pictured above), a well-known gig worker-activist, has teamed up with fellow gig worker-activist Sarah Clarke (pseudonym) to form the Gig Workers Collective. It's early days for the organization, which is a pending 501(c)(3) organization, but its ambitions are big.

“We want to be the first responders that, whenever gig workers find out there is a pay cut or some type of issue, they’ll feel comfortable coming to us," Clarke told TechCrunch.

The plan is to continue fighting for fair pay and better treatment for gig workers, whether they shop for Instacart, drive for Uber or Lyft or deliver for Postmates and DoorDash. Through the organization, Clarke hopes to be able to help other gig workers effectively organize, file grievances and advocate for themselves.

"Vanessa and I have been organizing for four years," Clarke said. "We've been doing it on the side while also maintaining working 40 hours a week gig jobs. If we focus solely on organizing, we can accomplish so much more."

Over the years, Bain and Clarke have led a number of campaigns. More recently, they led a nationwide campaign that entailed six days of action in protest of Instacart. Last year, they also went on strike for 72 hours in demand of a better tip and fee structure.

Right now, the organization has a board of five gig workers and six workers who are contributing to the organization.

"Assuming we get funding, we can pay for everything they do," Clarke said. "Right now, everything we pay for is out of pocket. With proper funding, we can pay workers who are working on the campaign."

The next steps for the young organization are to try to get funding. However, Clarke said they will be selective about who they take funding from in order to ensure those funders don't try to exert too much control.

She said, "the workers will always need to come first."

The year of the gig worker uprising