Matt Spoke is CEO of Moves Financial, a company that is attempting to give a voice to gig workers with a unique approach that brings together “financial services, technology and and the labour aspects” of this unique segment of the work force.
Spoke became fascinated with the challenges of gig work in 2019 when he went to Ethiopia to do work for a charity and met Ryan Graves, “employee number one” at Uber. Graves was chief operating officer at Uber for over a decade, seeing it through the move from a keen idea to a global expansion. Spoke says that on this trip, he and Graves had “tons of interesting conversations.”
Those conversations continued after they returned to North America, fuelled by the new debate surrounding the emergence of gig work as a big factor in the economy. With the growth of Uber and other companies, the question of whether these workers were employees or contractors became a major political issue.
California, among other jurisdictions, attempted to introduce legislation, acting to make gig workers more like employees. That approach was firmly opposed by companies like Uber. The confrontation because so heated that Uber threatened to shut down their California operations if it passed.
Spoke felt that both sides had valid points. In his mind, “Uber was not doing anything wrong…but they were looking out for their own interests.” Spoke noted that the California legislation was seen by Uber as “an existential threat to their business.”
On the other hand, Spoke also felt that the gig workers also had a “legitimate set of concerns.” They have “no employer, no representation and no laws protecting them.”
The pandemic exacerbated the problems of gig workers who now numbered in the millions in Canada and the US. When the pandemic struck, many found themselves instantly out of work. Yet unlike other workers they had no safety net. While Canada has health insurance for all, the US gig workers had none. In both countries they fell through the cracks in other social safety nets like unemployment insurance and pension plans.
Spoke felt that there had to be a better solution. He imagined “building a company that acts the way a union would, but that understands the challenges (of gig workers). It would avoid the pitfalls of trying to fit them into the same precise mold as employees. But it would help them be seen as “a legitimate part of the workforce.” and give them “a voice in the new economy.”
That led to the development of Moves, which Spoke describes as part “labour union and part credit union” but put together in a way that really meets the new challenges of the gig economy.
Our weekend edition is a wide ranging conversation on this topic. I hope you will find it as fascinating as I did.