I recently spoke with a friend I had not talked to for several months. As with most “catch-up” conversations, the topic of jobs came up quickly. She asked me how things were going for me with work. I told her that since the height of COVID-19 in the United States some of the work had dwindled as companies and universities were shutting down. I explained how frustrating it was. I told her how I was taking whatever work I could, even if the pay was low. She meant well but she said the thing that I cannot stand hearing:“It is too bad that you can’t work a real job.”
I know I am not the only turker who has heard this or something similar. Of course I wanted to say so many different things in response but I didn’t. This did make me think long and hard about how I feel about what I do, however.
I wake up in the morning, grab my caffeine of choice, and sit down at my desk. Sometimes I don’t turn my computer off at night so programs searching for work can continue to run. Sometimes I do shut it down only to have everything back up
and running just hours later. Screens pop up in front of me listing the day’s current work opportunities on AMT. My day starts out the same as it does for tens of thousands of other workers. Even though we rarely meet the other people who do the same work we do, we know they are out there.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition, defines ‘job’ as listed below:
Noun, A regular activity performed in exchange for payment, especially as one’s trade, occupation, or profession.
Noun, A position of employment.
Noun, A task that must be done.
Noun, A specified duty or responsibility: synonym: task.
Check, check, check, and check.
I applied to work on AMT and went through their verification process. I anxiously awaited the email that would tell me if they had accepted me. Luckily they did and I went through the probationary period. I trained myself by seeking out other workers on Facebook, watching YouTube videos, and visiting forums. I work every day on tasks and have for the last five years. I constantly test for qualifications for new work. I am a turker by profession and am referred to as
such by AMT and the requesters who use the platform.
Turking is a job.
Some American turkers receive 1099 forms from AMT for tax purposes. We include our Amazon income, 1099 or not, on our yearly taxes.
Turking is a job.
Even though what we do fits the very definition of a job, there are still people out there that think otherwise. Even with the federal and state governments legitimizing Gig Economy workers by providing them unemployment benefits for the first time ever, there are still people out there who don’t think we deserve them if our work is affected.
Turking IS a job. I am asking you to own it with me. I am asking you to stand up with me for proper treatment. I am asking you to be proud of the work you do and I am asking you to help change the narrative.
by Krystal Kauffman