“They sent a single artificial flower to her funeral.”


What’s Going on in the Workforce

“They sent a single artificial flower to her funeral.” Grab a box of tissues before you read this Bloomberg piece about Alabama’s auto parts industry.

“Amazon is externally exposing the tools it uses to set its own prices in order to guarantee that the price listed on Amazon is as low as possible for the customer.” This is a pretty fascinating read, from a retail startup founder, about the way that Amazon is setting itself up for market dominance by basically making a platform out of every possible part of the company.

h/t to my coworker Brad Rothrock, for finding this new site, which is designed to shame companies that aren’t paying their freelancers (as well as educate freelancers about who not to work for).

A Norwegian company says it will have a self-driving electric container ship in use by 2020.

The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute just issued a report outlining the threats from automation to retail workers’ jobs (which make up about 10% of the workforce).

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Did you realize the American Dream? If you did, how much of that was due to your own hard work, versus where you started in life? Take this quiz for a new perspective on it.

Organizing Theory

Count Love is tracking protests during the resistance to Trump…and they have an app that’s designed to let you check in to be counted.

From Partners

Great piece from Gender Avenger on how the Personal Democracy Forum became more diverse in their speaker slots. Rule #1—don’t accept all-male panels.


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Shitty jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problems we now face.” Check out what this Rutgers History professor has to say, about why full employment won’t solve our problems.

These documentary filmmakers want to film a basic income experiment for 2 years, and then release the movie in time for the 2020 elections.

Geeking Out

Fun data visualization that shows what time people in some of the biggest sectors of the economy are at work, at home, or somewhere else.

What about…Wilmington?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

When you think about automation in the workforce, you probably think about Rust Belt cities. What about…Wilmington? Bloomberg takes a look at where US industries are buying the most robots, and why.

Four worker-owned cleaning service coops have joined forces to launch a new app to allow customers to schedule cleaning, along the lines of Task Rabbit, while creating more equity (cleaners keep much more of the money).

In expanding to Myanmar, Uber has announced they will only work with official taxi drivers—and their unions.

A good look at the various pieces of legislation around portable benefits in different states.

Geeking Out

The 76ers have launched an innovation & vc hub. Cue jump shot jokes here.

Time looks at the amount of income you need to feel happy, in different parts of the country. Not surprisingly, the highest price tags are in the mid-Atlantic and on the West Coast.

From Partners

Really thoughtful piece from friend-o’-the-blog Annette Bernhardt, on ideas for how worker advocates can react to technology, beyond just fighting for basic income.

The AFL-CIO just released a tool-kit for defending immigrant workers.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

You know we’ve reached peak sharing economy, when its got its own New Yorker profile.

The Freelancers’ Union had a fantastic event in New York yesterday, to celebrate the first day of the Freelance Isn’t Free law, and to announce the launch of their new app, to help freelancers fight wage theft.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

What’s a tech company to do, when they discover hate groups using their service?

Events

In Chicago? Head to the New Economy Coalition’s event tomorrow night.

In NY or North Jersey? Check out the inaugural event of SkepTech next week.

The platform coop crew has announced the dates for this year’s conference.

What’s up with the automation apocalypse?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

A think tank in the UK has just released a report projecting that up to a third of British jobs could be automated in the next 20 years, and proposing reforms to government training programs, to support workers. And the raging debate about where automation is likely to hurt worst just heard from a new front—these folks say they’ve mapped which US cities have the most jobs in industries that are likely to be hard-hit. And Andy Stern asks, “why don’t our current elected officials do something” about the pending (and current) impact of automation on jobs.

h/t to Michael Grabell for this amazing piece on the American poultry industry (online at ProPublica, with a companion piece in this week’s New Yorker, where it is regrettably paywalled).

Organizing Theory

12 Stats on online fundraising & social media that your organization needs to grapple with.

Really good look at how a Kenyan doctors’ union used social media to win over public opinion during a strike.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti just built a budget that relies on tax revenue from AirBnb—which some locals think undercut their efforts to limit homestays in the city.

A hotel chain is partnering with Instacart & Peapod, to let its customers order grocery delivery to their rooms.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Should we be afraid of western governments starting to crack down on civil society organizations?

“Poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Lyft recently announced the opening of a new center for drivers, in Las Vegas (it says this is their sixth, anyone know where the first five are?). Ride-sharing organizers, start your engines!

Project Equity is working to transform businesses owned by retiring baby boomers into worker-owned coops.

“Poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.” Dutch historian claims that Universal Basic Income would only cost the US $175B (or a third of the national defense budget). Defend our people, support UBI?

The City of Portland is subpoenaing Uber’s “playbook,” that the company used to circumnavigate regulations when they were not allowed to operate legally.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

If you haven’t deleted your Uber account yet, it’s now going to be easier to see your rating as a passenger. Uber hopes this means you’ll be nicer to drivers when rating them—but why don’t they just stop kicking people off the app if their rating drops to 4?

I guess the lesson of this story is, if you’re planning to murder your wife, you might want to take her Fitbit off first.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Lots of us hailed Juno when it launched as a pro-driver ride-sharing platform. Sadly, they just sold out—and sold out their drivers at the same time.

Uber is offering paid sick leave! But only in the UK, where it’s apparently called “sickness cover.” And surprise, surprise—it will cost drivers money.

Instacart just announced a national expansion, including letting customers in some new markets get a year’s worth of access to Instacart Express for free.

You don’t need to bike to work if you never leave the house (or is that just me)

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

We might not be fully successful at promoting bike lanes, but I guess it’s also good for the planet if people stop commuting at all?

“Sharing” economy startup Appear (Here) wants to let you book pop-up space for YOUR start up business.

Vermont wants ride-sharing companies to add more insurance to cover personal injuries when drivers don’t have a rider in the car. Uber & Lyft, predictably, are opposing the bill.

Pre-paid cards and Wal-Mart are both generally terrible—but together, they’re trying to get low-income Americans to save.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Oh Uber, maybe focus less on the gimmicks, and more on making your company less of a dumpster fire?


Organizing Theory

Interesting first-person account of shareholder activism, by two professors who decided to step out of academia.

From Partners

Nerd alert! Descartes Labs is building a set of maps that will allow global forecasting.

Geeking Out

Steve Ballmer (yes, that Steve Ballmer) just launched a website designed to increase awareness of government spending.

It’s not every day that a person who admits, in the first paragraph of a story, to making $700K a year writes a piece that I find sympathetic. But this essay on how poverty is a disease—and the cure is not meritocracy—managed to pull it off.

Cage match: thumbs up vs. five stars?

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Should gig economy companies dump the five-star rating system for a thumbs-up/thumbs-down, like Netflix just did? Or maybe just stop terminating workers for being anything less than close to perfect?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Etsy’s a sharing economy company that seems particularly committed to sustainability. Check out their efforts to track—and reduce—waste in all their corporate offices, worldwide.

Cities in the UK are interested in learning how to better support worker cooperatives from the US’s Democracy Collaborative.

Will a bilingual financial app help close the wealth gap between whites and Latinos?

From Partners

Journalist friends: the New Economy Coalition is giving $1K grants to reporters that cover the new economy. See here for info.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

FedEx has started using robots, instead of people, to deliver things inside its repair facility.

Ontario may become one of the first governments in the world to seriously regulate temporary employment—including banning the practice of perma-temping.

Yet another of Uber’s business practices has been called into question. And it’s called “Hell” inside the company, so they probably had some inkling when they started the thing…

It’s sometimes hard to tell if the gig economy is driving a race to the bottom in online-only work, in part because it’s hard to know what to compare it to. If an American company hires you to transcribe something, and you’re sitting in the Phillipines, are you undercutting American workers? Filipino workers? Whose labor laws apply?

Organizing Theory

Indivisible has given millions of Americans insight into how to hold Congresspeople accountable. What if we had similar guides in how to influence the regulatory process of government departments?

The US is no longer shaming employers who kill or injure workers.

The Perils of Trumpism

In the Trump Administration, OSHA is not only no longer shaming employers publicly for killing workers—they’ve also lost the ability to enforce safety violations that happened more than 6 months before a firm is cited.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

What’s going on inside Costco’s corporate culture, that makes it so different than other shopping behemoths?

The EEOC just settled one of the largest age discrimination cases in US history against a restaurant chain.

The UK group that represents HR professionals has done a study of the gig economy there, and made some recommendations about what it means for the future of work across the pond.

So you wanna talk about the impact of robots on jobs in the US? Here’s a paper that involves lots of math & shiny equations. Bonus points if you can explain “commuting zones” in language the president can understand. The IMF is also forecasting that technology is taking a bigger bite out of workers’ wages than trade is, worldwide.

From Partners

This new ProPublica study demonstrates that auto insurers discriminate, in selling insurance, on the basis of race.

Geeking Out

Which companies are best poised to profit from self-driving cars? Hint: not necessarily Uber.


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Take a step beyond Universal Basic Income to learn about Universal Basic Assets.

Habitat for Humanity is launching a campaign to raise money & awareness around affordable housing—in part in reaction to Trump’s HUD budget cuts.

Events

In NYC? Go see friend-o’-the-blog Sarah Jaffe at the Workmen’s Circle, later this month.

Flying taxis may be here sooner than you think

Geeking Out

Pizza* by robot, coming to Europe this summer.

Well, we might be getting flying taxis sooner than you think.


What’s Going on in the Workforce

UPS thinks that 3D printing is likely to disrupt the global supply chain, so they’re retooling some warehouses to be able to house printing supplies and services, instead of goods shipped from elsewhere.

In stark contrast to the Treasury secretary, apparently the CEO of Yum Brands believes that fast food workers will be replaced by robots in the next 10 years.

And on that note—here’s the MIT Tech Review’s take on robotic grocery stores.

Organizing Theory

h/t to my coworker Anza Becnel, the organizer who conducted a warrants clinic that helped 1300+ New Orleanians to get out from under traffic warrants that kept them from being able to move forward—because they couldn’t afford to pay outstanding tickets.

Tenant organizers partnered with a non-profit startup to launch an app for documenting landlord violations.

From Partners

The fine gents at Future Left interviewed me for their podcast last week on the future of work/future of labor. Listen here. (You’ll have to do that for me, because I can’t listen to the sound of my own voice without cringing.)

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Since Congress wants your browsing history to be a commodity, why not give those pesky ISPs even more than they’ve asked for? Check out the new plug-in, Noiszy, which creates additional data “noise” while you’re browsing. And here’s an article from the creator, explaining why it’s a good idea.

*Assuming that you accept Dominos as pizza.

What if your phone’s location history helped you win a wage theft case?

Geeking Out

Check out this technically complicated but amazing Medium post about how some Penn students partnered with a legal services agency and built an app that uses location history on a worker’s phone to provide evidence in a wage theft case.

MIT has supported lots of “disruption.” But now they’re set to award someone $250K for disobedience.

Organizing Theory

If you’ve ever incorporated a 501c3 from scratch, you’ll know it’s a PITA. This new startup (founded by an African American woman) is aiming to reduce those pain points.

From Partners

Our States has launched a new website tracking both state-level progressive and conservative legislation around immigration, voting rights, reproductive justice, policing & protest and more.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Here’s a a super-interesting way that music-lovers are supporting musicians in Austin.

I’m not gonna lie—reading about the blockchain makes my head hurt. But if people are going to start using it to verify global supply chains, smart people on our side better start understanding it.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Uber is hit with complaints about not providing adequate service to the disabled again, this time in El Paso. And while we’re on Uber’s bad news of the week, they’ve suspended all self-driving car tests, after an accident in Arizona.

Instacart just settled a class-action lawsuit, brought by workers, for $4.6M. The suit was triggered after an in-app change made it unclear that a newly-instituted service fee was not a tip that would be passed on to the delivery person. http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2017/03/24/instacart-pays-4-6-million-to-settle-workers.html

The Perils of Trumpism

Well, apparently the Treasury Secretary doesn’t think losing jobs to automation is something we need to worry about. I guess he hasn’t been reading this blog. Or this new survey from Price Waterhouse Cooper.

The Barista Revolution

Original Content

I continue to be impressed by the work of the small but mighty team at Coworker.org—here’s how they empowered Starbucks baristas to push back on a scheduling disaster, last summer.

Thanks to all our supporters who keep this site going. If you like the original content on this site, please kick in a small contribution ($1/mo?) to help us keep it up and running.

The Perils of Trumpism

Trump’s cuts to the Department of Labor budget will—quelle surprise!—hit low-wage workers the hardest.

Events

h/t to reader Hannah Sassaman for sending me this Philly event about the Robot City (Automation & Low Wage Workers).

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Well, no matter where you come down on the question of the Oxford Comma, there’s no doubt that these bosses wish their legislature had used one.

“Alexa, can you find me a job?” 250,000 retail workers have already lost their jobs, and about 12 million other retail positions are threatened by Amazon and other online shopping entities.

Meanwhile, in the actual Amazon, another industry has been revealed to be using slave labor.

Uber, predictably, is communicating in their app with Seattle drivers about how they don’t want them to join a union.

Two Australian unions have just negotiated a new contract that creates a direct hire policy for casual workers, pushing back against precarious work at Parmalat.

From Partners

Fight for the Future launches a funding strategy to kickstart lots of activist groups.

Friend-‘o-the-blog Beth Becker has teamed up with Organize 2.0 to host two weeklong Digital Organizing boot camps this summer—in New York and Denver.

Geeking Out

Two students have created a campaign to point out all the things in the US that have been made by refugees.


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“The work ethic is a death sentence…” Looking for a basic overview of all the potential solutions to the changing nature of work? Look no further.

14% of community college students are homeless. Do better, America.