Battlepanda: The eRace to the Bottom


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The eRace to the Bottom

What to make of

The German website is a kind of eBay for workers. When you have a job to be done, you post a listings stating the nature of the work and the maximum amount you are willing to pay. Potential workers then bid for that job by undercutting each other's rates until the lowest bidder wins. The unions in Germany, and many politicians, are predictably up in arms about it. But given the unemployment rates of 12.5% in Germany, it seems cruel to denounce a new way for workers to find jobs.

Now, I know that given my general pro-union stance it might seem puzzling that I am tentatively rooting for a website that facilitates the undercutting of wages. The thing is, I think unions are necessary to correct the vast asymmetry in power between corporations on the one hand and individual workers on the other. I don't support them simply to support employees over employers. In the case of JobDumping, I suspect the employers are more likely to be individuals or small companies requiring short-term freelance labor and willing to take a risk on giving the job to the low bidder rather than interviewing for a qualified applicant. I don' think the power imbalance issue is there as it is with big companies. And by cutting down the cost of finding and hiring freelance labor, jobs that were not previously viable without JobDumping would be created. Of course I might be wrong, but I don't think the JobDumping concept is a threat to labor any more than eBay is a threat to Macys.