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Uber to launch Uber Works temp worker app Friday in Chicago

New app emerges as Uber grapples with changes that could upend the gig economy.

Uber is branching into the temp worker business with Uber Works.
Casey Gutteridge/Uber

Uber is diving deeper into the gig economy on Friday with the launch of a new app for on-demand workers looking for temporary positions. Uber Works, which matches workers with blue-collar event jobs such as cooks and waiters, will launch in Chicago on Friday, the company said Wednesday.

Uber has been working on the project in stealth mode in Chicago for the past year and previously experimented with it in Los Angeles. It'd operate as its own venture, similar to Uber's food delivery service, Uber Eats, and its self-driving car business, Uber Advanced Technologies Group.

"We believe a new, technology-first approach can provide faster and easier means for people to get work, while offering greater insight into the many opportunities for work that are out there -- improving the experience for workers and businesses alike," Uber said in a blog post Wednesday.

Uber says the app will provide information such as gross pay, work location and required skills and attire. It will also track work time, logging when users clocked in, clocked out and took breaks.

News of the app's launch comes as the gig economy that Uber depends on for workers is about to undergo a major shakeup in California. Last Month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a landmark bill, AB 5, into law on that could require companies that use independent contractors to reclassify their workers as employees.

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Under AB 5, all companies using independent contractors in the state will be put to a three-part test that looks at how much control the company has over its workers. If the companies don't pass the test, they may be required to classify their workers as employees. That means those workers will get access to labor rights, such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation and the ability to join a union. 

Uber will partner on the endeavor with job-staffing agencies, including TrueBlue, one of the largest workforce management companies in the US.

Uber said it would announce plans on possible expansion of the app's territory after focusing on success in Chicago.

CNET's Dara Kerr contributed to this report.