"We actively and regularly engage in conversations with companies who are committed to doing right by their workforce by paying better wages and giving them a voice at work through their union. Airbnb is one such company," said Sahar Wali, an SEIU spokeswoman. "However, there is no formal relationship or agreement between SEIU and Airbnb," she said.
Airbnb, meanwhile, is considering how it might leverage its vast online platform to help generate good paying union jobs.
"We have been engaged in conversations with organizations and community leaders about how to best help working families find solutions to economic inequality, including creating specific ways we could leverage the Airbnb platform to help create quality union jobs that pay a livable wage," according to Christopher Nulty, an Airbnb spokesman.
So what would Airbnb and the union get from a potential deal?
At the very least, some good will and publicity. And in the case of the SEIU, broader support, including union-paying members.
Co-founded and led by chief executive Brian Chesky, Airbnb has allowed many people to rent homes for income, especially during the recession. Out-of-work Americans are using the rental platform to help create a patchwork of income in a growing freelance economy, sometimes referred to as the gig economy.
But in cities like San Francisco, Airbnb has triggered controversy as critics charge it is displacing long-term tenants as some people convert scarce rental property into essentially motels and hotels for travelers — all without paying local hotel taxes, or meeting regulations as required for the hospitality industry.