Clearinghouses like Uber may actually turn out to be the model for a new, digital form of labor union. Rather than relying on collective bargaining, these new unions would displace the third-party clearinghouses by taking over their role in the market. Think about it. The drivers join together and agree to contribute a small percentage of their fares — much smaller than the fees Uber extracts — as union dues, and the pooled cash is used to build and run their own, jointly owned ride-sharing platform. As the current plethora of such clearinghouses — the Uber of wiping smudges off eyeglasses! the Airbnb of caskets! — makes clear, setting up such platforms is, as a technical matter, pretty straightforward at this point, and once set up, they operate with great efficiency. By cutting out the Uber middleman, the drivers would not only keep more of their earnings; they’d also reap benefits of scale in establishing insurance plans, retirement accounts, and the other sorts of worker benefits that unions basically invented.
Both economics and society have to catch up with Uber like entities. They are natural monopolies so we need to decide what form of regulation is appropriate.