Platforms are fundamentally changing the contract between workers and companies — and the workers and creatives that create value for platform companies, and rely on platforms for their livelihoods, often have little power when it comes to getting the concerns addressed. In the face of this, a new form of collective labor activism tailored to the gig and creator economies is emerging: decentralized collective action (DCA). Mixing methods of traditional organizing with new approaches — from manipulating algorithms to deploying blockchain powered decentralized solutions — workers are using DCA to try to rewrite the rules of platform work.
In October 2019, two DoorDash drivers — Dave Levy and Nikos Kanelopoulos — launched the #DeclineNow Facebook group. The duo had discovered that when a DoorDash driver declines a delivery, the app offers that delivery to another driver for higher pay. In the Facebook group, which now numbers more than 30,000 members, they urged peers to reject any delivery that doesn’t pay at least $7 — more than double the base rate of $3. “Every app-based, on-demand company’s objective is to constantly shift profits from the driver back to the company,” Levy explained. “Our objective is the reverse of that.”
On September 1, 2021, many Twitch streamers participated in a coordinated protest — taking the day off streaming in response to the platform’s perceived inaction against harassment of marginalized creators. Platform viewership dropped by an estimated 5% to 15%. Though the protest lasted only a day, it garnered widespread attention: Many news outlets reported on the harassment problem, and #ADayOffTwitch became one of the top 10 trending hashtags on Twitter.