The Future of Work

Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content

In this episode of Good Things, Gloria talks to Adrian Haro, the CEO of The Workers Lab, about the future of work. In the future they discuss, ensuring that contract workers can earn a living wage in safe conditions is of the utmost importance. Adrian and Workers Lab is working to radically redesign what working life this country offers to all those who hold it up every day.

This episode is presented by the Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at or visit on social media @caseygrants.



Gloria Riviera, Adrian Haro

Gloria Riviera  00:23

Hello and welcome to Good Things. I’m your host, Gloria Riviera, in this episode, we are talking about the future of work, and by the future, I don’t mean AI and robots, although that is certainly part of it. What we will cover today is the future of how we take care of contract workers and ensuring they can earn a living wage in safe conditions. Adrian Haro has been with the workers lab since 2017 when he started as managing director. The workers Lab is a national home for worker centered innovation in the US. They do a lot of listening to workers hearing their frustrations about the benefits they are not receiving, and how those benefits would change their lives and more. Adrian’s energy is infectious. We were laughing together right from the start, bonding over our shared history of bagging groceries as our first job, although he held more prestigious titles than I did in that role. You will hear all about that. We then quickly got down to business, the business of improving work for low paid employees. And when Adrian coined during the interview as those in the excluded workers economy, I love that term. The gig economy is another commonly heard way to describe the sector. What I’m thinking of now, just after the interview ended, is that one very simple starting point for us all is simply to be more aware. If you are listening to this podcast, you have an interest in those who for others, can seem invisible in their jobs, and yet, whether it is your Uber driver or the person who paints your door or helps you with all those jobs listed on TaskRabbit. These people have skills and talents and are needed, and those things and others make them valuable human beings, so let’s treat them that way. Adrian has a terrifically positive energy about him, thank goodness, because we need that in order to radically renovate what working life in this country offers to all those who hold it up every day. Here’s Adrian Haro from The Workers Lab.


Gloria Riviera  03:34

Hi, thank you for being here.


Adrian Haro  03:36

Thank you for having me.


Gloria Riviera  03:37

I’m ridiculously excited to talk about what it is that you do. I am so fascinated, and I understand. I feel like one iota of this endeavor, and that one iota is really exciting, but I want to understand as much as I can over the course of this interview. So my first question, Adrian, is, what was your first summer job, or job in general?


Adrian Haro  04:08

Oh my gosh, you know, I don’t, I don’t remember which one came first. I’m a long time workaholic. I’m afraid I’m working on that. So I had multiple, I think my first job was actually multiple jobs.


Gloria Riviera  04:21

How old were you?


Adrian Haro  04:22

I was probably like 14 or 15. I worked as a bagger at the local grocery store, at a Ralph’s. I grew up in Los Angeles, California.


Gloria Riviera  04:31

Oh, I also, you’re looking at a fellow grocery bagger here, and it takes a lot of effort for me, the person who trained me taught me about building my side walls in the grocery bag, like in a paper bag.


Adrian Haro  04:47

Two cereal boxes, and then everything else goes in the middle boxes.


Gloria Riviera  04:50

Exactly, oh, my God, it’s universal.


Adrian Haro  04:53

You know I was, because I don’t know, I think I may have got I was customer service representative of the month all the time. How about you?


Gloria Riviera  05:00

Yeah, well, I mean, you had to throw out that out there that I cannot also claim. So,


Adrian Haro  05:07

Oh, my god, we’re already kindred spirits by virtue of our bagging background. So I did, I did that job, and then at the same time, I worked a few hours the week at the local teachers union, stuffing envelopes. And, you know, making copies, that kind of thing. And also, at the same time, worked at our at my at our church rectory, Catholic Church rectory, and did counted the money from all the people who were all the contributions from the last Sunday.


Gloria Riviera  05:38

Gosh, you were responsible. Wow, and busy.


Adrian Haro  05:42

Yeah, but I guess responsible, yeah. I was a huge, you know, nerd, obsessed with being involved and service way back then, a little too intense, I think, for some place like the east side of Los Angeles, but now that I look back on it, but formative, and I still think about those experiences today for sure, as we all do. I think, you know, for first jobs, type of influences.


Gloria Riviera  06:11

For sure. And I like when I go to my grocery store, I can bag. I always prefer because I’m like, I actually know. I actually do know what I’m doing.


Adrian Haro  06:19

Yeah, hey, it works best it works. I know the the climate, people are going to come for me, maybe, but the it works best with the paper bag. You know, because you can.


Gloria Riviera  06:28

Right, I know that’s what it was designed. That’s what the instruction manual was designed for. Was the paper bag agreed. So did you see other people around you, in your immediate family or circle of friends working equally as hard as you were working?


Adrian Haro  06:48

Harder. Yeah, harder. I grew up in a small little suburb of East Los Angeles, on the east side of Los Angeles called pico Rivera, and this is a town of predominantly Mexican people, Chicanos, very specifically. And back then, you know, 90s kid, I this was a town of, you know, Northrop Grumman, big plants. When that, when manufacturing was still like a big thing. Northrop Grumman was here. There was a Ford plant here. And so you think about those kinds of jobs, really good lifetime jobs that came with health benefits, pension, vacation time, all that stuff. So you had this really interesting thing going on in Pico Rivera at that time where you had a bunch of people speaking broken English and brown bodies with health benefits. It really and like going on vacation and raising families and going to church and doing all that stuff. And I grew up around all that, and that’s, you know, I think what’s her name from CNN a long time ago. Soledad O’Brien, I think that’s her name, did a story on Pico Ray bear. I called it the Latino Mayberry. I think is what she called it, because it really was that, my god.


Gloria Riviera  08:11

That is a good title, the Latino Mayberry, wow.


Adrian Haro  08:15

Yeah, and so, yeah. I mean, I grew up around all of that, people working really, really really hard, of course, my parents, my mom, I just wrote about her in something the other day. She’s my best friend, and she, like many immigrants right from Mexico, built what still is around today, the town’s cleaners. And I live here again now. She built that business. And so I’ve seen, you know, all the challenges, but most inspired today by the creativity that the people of the in these kinds of towns have, low wage working people of color, I believe are, are, are the most creative builders this country has, and, you know, I it informs everything I do at the workers lab, believe it or not, and feel really grateful to have grown up here and also to be back here, living, living here now again, it’s, it’s a great place.


Gloria Riviera  09:15

Yeah, what were those challenges that you saw and remember from your young adulthood?


Adrian Haro  09:21

Oh, God, you know, yeah. And then I think, you know, I’ll just speak for myself. And then my parents, which were the closest frames of reference I have, to that kind of stuff myself. Like I said, I was weird. I was a weird kid for this, for this little town. I really was my dreams were big. I used to say ambitious things, and, you know, I was gay. I didn’t know that back then, but I knew I was different, and I knew I was special, and I was going places, God knows. I told everybody I, Yeah, and that ambition was different for this kind of town, which is, you know, the goal was to come here and stay and to build a life that was better than somewhere else. And so I didn’t want to do any of that. I wanted to go to Washington, DC, and change the world. And, of course, it was intense, yeah, it was intense for and so all those challenges, right, as a kid in this kind of town, just being really different. Think by my parents, right? Like, I think I really saw, you know, my mom building a very small business, all those challenges there my dad, God bless him, had I was a mistake kid for a long time before, the majority of his, of his career was he used to cut dress patterns before everything was done digitally in downtown LA and he was the manager of, like, a a fashion like they would make patterns for dresses on paper. And he, like, managed that operation. It’s how my mom, my mom used to be a seamstress there, and that’s how they met, fell in love and all that. But I would say right when I when I went to college, like my last year of high school, that Job was shipped overseas, and like many jobs at that time were those kinds of jobs were being either replaced by technology or moved away.


Gloria Riviera  11:23

Yeah, disappeared.


Adrian Haro  11:24

Yeah, and so I had had, I had this really unique experience where, like, for the majority of my childhood, you know, I really was experiencing, it feels so almost naughty to say the word, the words American dream today. But I did have that, you know, I was the recipient of that, and then we had it like literally ripped out from under us. And so, you know, did all that, and watched my dad go from being the manager to doing the he was already in his early, I think, late 50s, early 60s, how the only job that would take him at that point was as a janitor at a local school district here. And I think a lot of folks would probably think that a janitor’s job, a cleaner’s job, is a low, dirty job, but for us, I mean, it was more about what that job represented, which was, it was at a school district, and so it came with health benefits and union membership, and it really saved our lives and so, and watching my dad just the shame of being really at the top and then having to clean classrooms at night, I don’t know. I really respect him for that. I can’t imagine, right? And like doing everything that he could to to take care of us, and so all those challenges that I think, you know, just in that one story, reflect, I think, really the evolution of of the economy, of of the nature of work since the 1970s up until now, which, you know, I would argue, have not been, not been great for workers, good for you know. And so all those challenges wrapped into one childhood and one lat and one life that, uh, you know, I think about a lot, and certainly have learned from, yeah, God knows, yeah.


Gloria Riviera  13:19

How is the change that you want to create different from the quality jobs as your parents defined them. Does that question make sense?


Adrian Haro  13:30

I think so. Yeah. Um, I’ve learned a lot, you know? I think when I, when I, even when I got to the Workers Lab and God, certainly taking the helm from our founder, who’s fabulous. I didn’t know the answer to that question. Honestly, I wish. I wish I did. I just knew that, in addition to making jobs, quality jobs in this country, I have learned and now convinced and almost if you ask my team, hellbent on preaching, making work also quality in this country. I don’t think it’s in our culture. I don’t think it’s in the discourse. I don’t think most people know that the the major federal labor laws in this country exclude millions. I’ve always excluded millions of of low wage workers, right? We, you know, call that the gig economy. Called it the excluded workers economy, whatever.


Gloria Riviera  14:28

Ooh, excluded workers economy. I haven’t heard that phraseology yet. I’ve only heard gig economy, which I had to research. So, excluded workers economy, that’s interesting.


Adrian Haro  14:40

Yeah, which has, you know, gig economy has a sort of tech Uber, sort of tinge to it, but I’ll tell you this the Uber driver and the the cleaner or domestic worker and the sex worker and the artist all are up against the same kind of exclusion. Inclusion that is rooted in sexism and racism baked into the major federal labor laws of this country, 1930 right?


Gloria Riviera  15:06

This is what I want to learn so much about. Okay, yeah, okay, let’s do it. So, so let’s I’m going to start with a very simple, short question, um, our research showed that, well, one stat we came across was that something like 44% of employed workers in the US have quality jobs. And the question I immediately had is, why isn’t that number higher? But after listening to you, how do we define quality? Is where I want to start somewhere, very simple.


Adrian Haro  15:36

Yeah, I think so. It’s a few things, so we define it, safety, health, security, financial security, power, you know, going back to what I told you about, how I really have learned a lot. It was all those things. It was all those things right when I got here, and then, as we have really zeroed in on where we think, as the workers lab, we can be the most helpful, where worker centered innovation can be most helpful, which is inside the gig economy. I’m almost convinced now, because there’s relatively nothing there at scale anyway, we’ve added to that to our definition of quality job, work, whatever flexibility, and that’s because workers have told us that it’s really important to them and that they like it now. They don’t like it as a as a trade off for things like health insurance. They like it as an addendum, or in addition to things like the traditional things that we would consider quality.


Gloria Riviera  16:45

And let’s be clear, not a benefit, right? I mean, that’s my that’s me not having read anything about that, but my sense from speaking to countless caregivers, specifically early educators, is that the flexibility actually, that’s not a really good example, because they have very little flexibility unless they work part time. But what I want to do is be clear about how flexibility is seen, because I think it’s shifted clearly from the pandemic, and it’s not seen as a benefit. In my mind. What’s your take on that?


Adrian Haro  17:23

Um, I think increasingly, if you talk to workers, which we do a lot, and particularly these excluded workers, gig workers, whatever, billing makes most sense to you. Um, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s a benefit or if it’s a I’ll tell I’ll just tell you, it’s high on the priority list, really high. It’s up there with healthcare. It’s up there with, you know, it’s really, really, really important. I but I will say for myself, Adrian speaking, I think, I don’t think it’s, I don’t think it’s a benefit. I think particularly post pandemic, like my god for women of color, low wage women of color, who are single moms, who can’t, you know, for some it’s a necessity, who cannot work in a nine to five because they’re busy and they need to take care of what their children pick above like it’s just so if the people in power in this country who are making decisions about workers want to create a future of work that reflects the reality of what of what workers are experiencing now post pandemic, we absolutely have to go into the direction of designing around what they’re telling us, which is that they want all the things we know are good for workers, but they are also wanting flexibility.


Gloria Riviera  18:52

We’re going to take a quick break, but we will be right back with more on Good Things.


Gloria Riviera  19:10

When people hear flexibility, and I’m sitting in Washington, DC, so, this is a but, I mean, I’ve been shaking. Yes, I’m always shaking to some degree. But I read something in which someone who does have flexibility, you know, and recognized, you know, the struggles with the unpredictable schedule and finances, but also said I can be the most I’ve ever been myself in any job. And that sounds pretty good. That doesn’t sound like it applies to all of those in the excluded workers economy. I’m going to go with that phrase because I really like it. But it does. It does help me understand that there is an upside to being able to pick and choose. There’s a power in that for the worker.


Adrian Haro  21:51

Oh, 110%, my God, listen, I think when I talk about because in the excluded let’s go back to the excluded economy term, which, honestly, I’m not lying. I made it up on this. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, or whatever.


Gloria Riviera  22:06

You’re hearing me now for the first time, listeners, you heard it, you’re first.


Adrian Haro  22:10

No serious I’ve heard the term excluded workers before, but never excluded economy. Anyway, the workers that I am most passionate about helping in that part of the economy are the excluded workers, or the gig workers? Who are, you know, low wage really trying to make it, because also in that group, I would say, you know, one could make a really good argument that solo, high priced consultants fall into that bucket, right? But they’re doing just fine. But to get to your question, the big difference for me in in that consultant profile and an Uber driver or a farm worker or whatever, they do have flexibility. They do have actual flexibility they can they have agency. They have decision making, authority over what clients they’re going to take on, who they work for, their rate, all of that stuff. When you get down into the lower parts of that gig economy, particularly in the platform gig economy, which is robotic, algorithmic. It gets dicey. You know, this person needs a ride. That’s it, period, the end, we need to create, in this country a model for good gig work for those workers, so that they truly have flexibility, but also agency and control over when they work, for whom, for how, much, when, all of that and right? I’m really proud that we’ve that we’re doing that at the workers lab, because it’s, it’s needed.


Gloria Riviera  23:55

Yeah, and we will get there, and I want to hear all about it, but I think it’s being clarified for me as you answer, which is that we’re talking about workers with an absence of agency.


Adrian Haro  24:06



Gloria Riviera  24:06

That’s the population that we’re talking about. So that’s a downside of gig work. What are the other downsides?


Adrian Haro  24:13

So if you are, if you are a, if you are a true gig worker like you, you do work on a 1099, um, as opposed to a w2 you are because of those two major labor labor laws, federal labor laws, that I mentioned by and large in this country, right? Like those, you are excluded from all of the benefits, rights, protections that you would get working at a desk at a nine to five, right? So think about things like workers comp, minimum wage, which hasn’t been raised nationally since I don’t know. I think 2007 or 2008 um, anti discrimination laws, uh, paid time off, all those things that culturally we have become accustomed to, maybe even take it for granted, um. Are not they don’t apply to you. And so think about safety, protections, safeguards, all of that stuff, you know. Think about what that does to somebody. Talk about, you know, quality, I mean, safe, healthy, secure, have power. You have very little. And so I think those are the the major downsides of of of this part of the economy. But, you know, I mean, depends on how you look at it. Some days I wake up and I’m like, God in heaven, this is, it is not great for workers, but the other on the other side of the coin, it’s like, wow. Okay, so this is where innovation is really needed where there’s nothing, and so there’s a ton of opportunity as well.


Gloria Riviera  25:45

Yeah, yeah, and I love that we always love to be positive when we take on these very difficult topics. In fact, Lemonada is motto is we try to make life suck less. And so we like to talk about all the places we can make live suck less. But getting back, getting back to the downsides. You mentioned a 9 to 5, W2 like a traditional job. Even if you you have that traditional job, you’re still going to deal with some of the same downsides. Because, you know, I see across industries a move away from, as you said, you know, the Mayberry ideal of being at one company for a long time, and, you know, contributing towards your own retirement, the list just goes on and on and on. So that’s not great, but there’s a lot of room for innovation. I also want to ask, how do all of the downsides affect the most vulnerable groups, like formerly incarcerated people, immigrants? What? What happens to that particular subset?


Adrian Haro  26:53

Yeah, I mean, I think I don’t want to speak for workers, right? But based on what we have learned directly from them, which check all of those boxes. By and large, it’s, I’m going to give you a weird answer. If you think about let’s take the example of an undocumented person, a person who’s been formerly incarcerated, somebody who’s experiencing a disability, all of those groups. You’ve got a problem in the W2 world. You do, you just do. And so for the for the first year, the formerly incarcerated, the undocumented, for example, you’re not allowed, in many cases, to work in a formal economy. And so in it on a W2, so in many ways, what I think the press and the culture the national discourse doesn’t hear a lot about, is that actually, for some workers who have backgrounds or whatever, gig work is their only option. And so it just continues to be trust and support our our perspective and our vantage point that like for the least among us, those who need our help the most, who need a leg up, it’s even more important to rally energy, enthusiasm, resources, around a vision for making gig work, good work in the United States.


Gloria Riviera  28:25

I love that sentence, gig work, good work. So that brings us directly to the organization you run and the work that you are leading. One of the things you have a smile on your face. I just want listeners to know with that exhale, there was a smile.


Adrian Haro  28:41

You know, I get nervous. I don’t, I don’t the word leader.


Gloria Riviera  28:46



Adrian Haro  28:47

Was always scared. So is expert, but scared me to death. But, you know, it’s true, I guess, yeah.


Gloria Riviera  28:52

I’m, I hope you are not scared, but in this one on one, you are the expert, so just accept that and tell me about, tell me about your work, tell me about the new ideas you have. To give that leg up to those who need it the most. How does that happen?


Adrian Haro  29:15

Oh, God. Well, it happens first and foremost by listening to workers themselves. We this Workers Lab is comprised almost entirely of first generation queer people of color, and that’s pretty cool to say in this day and age, but it’s really important, particularly given the nature of our work, which is innovation, which we define as giving life to new ideas, very specifically for and with workers. Worker centered innovation, because the innovation for workers that currently exists in this country, I would argue, on the whole, is not for workers. I mean Uber. For example, is an innovation for workers and work, it just hasn’t turned out to be a particularly good one, and so we lean on, literally, workers driving an Uber car, domestic workers, freelancers, sex workers, you name it. They’re all they’re all invited to our party to inform a new era of generation, really, that is centered on them, on their struggles, on their challenges, and actually their ideas. I go back to the beginning, which is not a line, right? Like I believe, because of my mother, that immigrant, low weight, immigrants, low wage, working people of color are some of the most creative people out there. They should absolutely be involved in any process for innovation that’s aimed at aimed at workers, so that that innovation, be it a law, policy, program, service piece of technology is actually from the get designed to help workers and their families instead of harm them, and we’re on a mission to make that happen.


Gloria Riviera  31:11

How do you do it with a vision of what work will look like in the future?


Adrian Haro  31:16

Imagine a world where all of the stuff that we know works in the way of building powerful workers organizing, collective bargaining, union membership, add to that strategy a well resourced, well funded movement for what we call worker centered innovation. I think in that future, workers are doing pretty good, because not only are you fixing what we know you’re imagining, planning for designing around what we don’t know for workers yet, that is where people with money power, venture capital firms, Silicon Valley have got us beat. Is on creativity, new ideas, ideation, all of that revenue generation, right? All of those things at the workers lab, absolutely in in the toolbox for building power for workers in this country. I wish it were ubiquitous, and I hope that one day we can make it that way. But I would say the work for us is making sure that the powers that be in the in and around the labor movement understand that innovation for and with workers is just as important and necessary as as the tools that we already know and have known worked for, for for building power for workers.


Gloria Riviera  32:41

Let me give you one example, and you can tell me if I’m near the right path. So I care passionately about caregivers and early education. And one thing that a lot of teachers come up against is certification, right to go get certified, so that you can become a certified teacher, obviously for public schools, but also within privately owned early education centers that are running all over this country. And I love the idea of family care as well, where there are far less certifications, but something that a lot of educators have told me is they want to change the certification requirements, because they spend time with people. They see how they are with the children. They find people they’d like to fast track to be certified. But it does seem like an innovative idea to me, to redesign, rethink what certification means is that, does that fall under the umbrella of what you’re thinking about at the Workers Lab?


Adrian Haro  33:40

Yes, because if you think about unequivocally us who came up with the certification, probably somebody who’s never worked in a low wage job or knows anything about it. I may be wrong about that, but I’m pretty I can, I would bet if I were in Vegas and so the entire apparatus around credentials is is really old and likely really exclusive. So when I talk about innovation and making things for workers more modern and more inclusive, credentialing fits right. It fits the bill almost perfectly. We did, and it does apply to gig workers. Actually, we just last year, and we’re going to put out a report in July where we tested, we brought workers in to develop a piece of technology that would give local workforce boards, local cities the ability to make gig local gig work good in their communities, right? So think about, have you ever used TaskRabbit?


Gloria Riviera  34:45

Oh, I’ve heard of TaskRabbit. I think I’ve ever tried once or twice, yes.


Adrian Haro  34:48

Think about a pro worker version of TaskRabbit, right? So, like, that’s housed in something like one of America’s fabulous job centers, whereby that Job Center has now the. Technology to be able to schedule the way scheduling gigs, but also becomes a de facto employer of record, right? That is holding down a w2 a bunch of gig work, just in smaller slices on a W2, in and all the data, right? So you’re the local worker, has all of their skills, all of their past experiences, all of everything in one platform, in one place. What we learned there is when you get down to reality and you’re talking to what local employers, be, them, families, aquariums, whatever, when they are looking at like the credentials that they need, the skills that they need, anything can be a credential. Some of the credential could be, I’m a nonsmoker, which is incredibly important if you’re talking about very local domestic work. Uh, a credential be like, I know how to work on a boat, which in a city like Long Beach, California, is really, really important. We have actually been thinking about that a lot because we need to recreate it if, in fact, we’re designing to the workers and the fact that they are incredibly complex people with a number of different skills and talents. The skills and talents. Thing is such an elite W like nine to five thing people in this lower rung of the economy, right, have so much talent and have so much skill. And why wouldn’t we formalize that? Why wouldn’t we create an entirely new paradigm for credentialing in this country that works for all workers in the country.


Gloria Riviera  36:49

Okay, sit tight, everyone. We’re going to take one more quick break, and we’ll be right back with more Good Things.


Gloria Riviera  37:07

It looks so to me, it looks broken, and I’m thinking of my sister needing help moving out of storage, and she knew the corner where majority men would gather in the morning and wait for a job like that, and it’s like, how do you know which corner to go to and how? And of course, no benefits, right? It’s somebody looking for some help. If that can be revolutionized, to benefit the worker as much as that work they provide is benefiting the employer, it would be an entirely different scenario. I mean, am I, am I naive? Or am I? Am I?


Adrian Haro  39:07

No, you’re excited. I’m getting excited because I think that is true, yeah. I mean, I think what you’re getting at is like, um, and I love, I come from government and politics, right? Like, I love all of my friends over there. Government, when government is at its best, it is one step ahead of the thing that we’re talking about right now, right? Like, this is the government. This is what workforce development people should be doing. Their job is to serve and to help people find work, regardless of who they are, their backgrounds, but the that we also have going back to the how do you get to the future in the workforce? But you’ve got a you got a piece of law, an old law, WIOA, it’s the workforce, Innovation and Opportunity Act that law does not incentivize local workforce leaders to serve anybody working outside of the nine to five paradigm. That’s crazy to me. That is really crazy.


Gloria Riviera  40:11

Does it? Does it drive you crazy again? This is a question coming from Washington, DC. We hear politicians talk about the employment rate, the unemployment rate, now that I’ve had this conversation with you, I feel like there’s a reason I’m not doing your job, because it would drive me crazy to hear politicians talk about employment numbers, unemployment numbers, because it doesn’t seem inclusive. They’re talking about a different it’s not it’s not okay, okay, good. Maybe I will come over there and apply for a job. Yeah, it feels like that’s not, that’s not what we’re not talking about. I mean, all the power to everyone who is lucky enough to have a job that makes them feel empowered. But what about everybody else? And it’s not very innovative or full of opportunity, is it? It’s not.


Adrian Haro  41:00

It is so back, yeah, it’s old, but going back to the to the the jobs numbers and how all that data is measured and then collected. BLS, the measurement tools and instruments that this country uses to collect data from workers, right, demographics, wages, everything, by and large, again, designed around a traditional nine to five model of work. So you we are literally missing out on hearing from and learning from probably millions of workers who are doing work in this country, who are generating economic activity, all that stuff, but we literally don’t know who they are, where they live, how much they make, all of that stuff, which is why the focus at the workers lab has been around learning more directly from those workers, because it’s a huge gap in what we know about who workers are and what they want and need.


Gloria Riviera  42:08

So what can we do? What is your advice going forward for? I mean, one thing that I’m taking away is be aware and have conversations. I love the Workers Lab does so much talking to and listening to workers, and I feel like that’s one simple takeaway. I feel like the more in conversation we can all be with you mentioned the excluded workers economy, it makes me also think of the workers that many people don’t acknowledge, right? That we that we miss, that the pandemic put into Technicolor because we couldn’t guess what survive?


Adrian Haro  42:47

Yeah, yeah. You asked me the question and then you answered it. That’s exactly right. I think if you are, if you’re anybody in this country, it’s not hard, it’s not hard to talk to, workers, right? Like, I think even more if you’re a service provider, a policy maker, an employer, talking to workers is the single best beaming in proximity to workers, acknowledging respecting their voices and what they have to say on everything from policy to technology, is the greatest tool that we have to make sure that the future of work is one that helps workers and their families instead of harming them, right? Because I think when you, when you talk to workers like we do, they tell it, they it’s straight. There’s no, I mean, how are you going to argue with that? I mean, I guess you could, but it would not, wouldn’t be good. And in addition to that, you design infrastructure. Everything is is designed in ways that’s supposed to be modern, modern and inclusive. Consumers, the general public, absolutely have a role to play in in in the enterprise of building power for workers in this country. And I hope that one day we’ll get there. We used to be there, you know, there was a time in this country where we were but it is a, I don’t know how you get people excited about go, you know, you got to get people excited about workers, work, all of that stuff, yeah, in this country, because they’re just, you know, I would say, at scale, not and workers are, I think, in this, in this culture, low and dirty and annoying and there anything but.


Gloria Riviera  44:35

Well, I’ll tell you one thing that I noted, and that was when I realized that My Uber driver could also give me a review, and it really changed my experience, because I thought, wait a minute. Oh, I want a high rating. And this two way street with someone who did not have a lot of autonomy and who. They picked up, right? And someone who did not have a lot of power in their own job, I don’t know it was just, it was a very interesting moment when I thought, Oh, wait, I’m being evaluated too, for how I treat this person as a human being who is doing a job that I desperately need in this moment, right. It’s, there’s, there’s something in there that needs to be communicated to anyone who interacts with with anyone in the gig economy.


Adrian Haro  45:28

Yeah, it’s such an interesting point, because I that driver, you know, the lawyers are fighting this out, and, you know, a lot of states across the country, but right now, that person does not have an employer. So who is, is that you in the backseat? Who is on the hook for making them feel safe and giving them an, you know, a good tip or whatever, right?  There’s a lot of room here for for consumers and for the culture to get behind the people who I the people who help us, literally, like every single day, now, you know.


Gloria Riviera  46:05

Yeah, it is every day. And Adrian, I want to say, thank you so much for your time. Today, we’re out of time. I wish we could go on. I do want to take it back. Just before we wrap. I was so struck. It’s still with me, the story of your father and that transition that he made between being a manager to being the janitor. And it just as we were talking about TaskRabbit, which is, you know, an online platform to go seek gig workers, you know, paint a room, help move some furniture, whatever it was, I just wonder what your reflections are now, when you think about the skills and talents that he had and how he maneuvered to the job that would provide him with some benefits, whereas his the job he held for a long time, you know, it was the job for someone living in in a Mayberry.


Adrian Haro  47:02

Yeah, you know, I think, well, I should say this. I don’t know if it’s allowed, but it’s the truth about the first thing I thought about is in my family, you know, we are people of faith. I’m a still, you know, I left the church for a while. I like to say I left the church to become gay, and now I’ve come all the way back to it now that I need God, right? And I would say that the same is like our faith was really helpful there, especially for my dad. But I would say to you what I said at the top, I parents like mine have done vastly harder thing that was hard for him. I have to but I have to imagine the process of coming to this country was a lot harder and a lot scarier. So I think when I say that, that these people, these kinds of people, who are my people, are the most notice. I’m using the word creative. They know how to figure things out, they do. They know how to figure things out, and that’s why we need them at at the innovation table, always.


Gloria Riviera  48:10

Adrian, thank you so much for your time.


Adrian Haro  48:12

Thank you for this opportunity.


CREDITS  48:20

Thank you for listening to Good Things. This episode is presented by the Marguerite Casey Foundation. This series is produced by associate producer Dani Matias. Our supervising producer is Jamila Zarha Williams, mixing and sound designed by Noah Smith. Steve Nelson is our SVP of weekly content. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Thanks so much for listening, see you next week. Follow Good Things wherever you get your podcasts and listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

Spoil Your Inbox

Pods, news, special deals… oh my.