Is it Janus Day?

Did you know that Janus is the Greek god of transitions? Note to self–try to work that into your next “whither the labor movement” take. 

Organizing Theory

Are you constantly hitting ‘refresh’ to see if the Janus decision came out yet? Give your browser a break and read this post about how teachers’ unions in Detroit survived, despite suffering their own mini-Janus six years ago.

Read through the corporate-speak to ask yourself: does my organization have anything like this approach to developing a workplace culture, from Day 1 on? As someone who’s changed jobs a lot, I can tell you that few progressive groups approach on-boarding with anywhere near this level of competency.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

If your city or state wins an Amazon HQ2 bid, workers might be paying their taxes to the boss.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Amazon games the system of “voluntary time off” to deprive warehouse workers of full-time pay.

Uber drivers went on strike in South Africa earlier this week, protesting the company’s fees as fuel prices skyrocket.

Drones and robots are being used in the construction of a new methane cracking plant in Western PA.

Apologies for the late delivery of Hack the Union. It’s been a week. 

“There is good reason to think that power imbalances play a big part in the rich world’s wage stagnation.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“There is good reason to think that power imbalances play a big part in the rich world’s wage stagnation.” Well, yes.

Josh Eidelson talks to Muslim workers who are organizing to get Amazon to respect their right to prayer breaks and other accommodations for Ramadan.

Welcome to China’s first robot bank. As in, a bank staffed by robots (so far, I don’t think they have cash of their own to deposit).

HR managers: AI is coming for (part of) your jobs.

You’ve probably seen that the BLS put out the results of their Contingent Worker Survey last week, triggering many think pieces about the fact that the gig economy isn’t really happening. (I’m a little mystified by that statement, since the release clearly says that they have not yet finished analyzing the data from new questions about app-based work, which won’t be released till the fall.) But here’s a good piece from the Post about it, which manages to quote both an economist AND a gig worker, so they deserve a Pulitzer. And also a helpful piece by Annette Bernhardt from the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Organizing Theory

The Animators’ Guild had female animators’ backs, during a recent #metoo case. Check out this unusual method of dealing with member-on-member sexual harassment, through a union hearing. (h/t for Nadia Hewka for sending this my way)

On a related note—this post, by Freada Kapor, on how VC firms should create harassment reporting policies and anti-discrimination practices—is applicable to many more institutions than just the VC field.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Honolulu votes to impose caps on ride-sharing surge pricing.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Future Uber might be using AI to tell your driver that you’re drunk.

“People go to Microsoft or Salesforce for software. People go to Uber or Lyft for a ride.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“People go to Microsoft or Salesforce for software. People go to Uber or Lyft for a ride.” The SF City Attorney, on why he subpoenaed 3 years’ worth of driver info from Uber & Lyft, after a recent CA Supreme Court decision made establishing worker misclassification easier.

Are “super jobs” burning out IT professionals?

If you work remotely & can live anywhere, Vermont wants you. And they’ll pay to get you.

Kudos to my friends at OUR Walmart for their work to influence the shareholders of the country’s largest brick & mortar retailer. You know you’re scaring them, when they change the format of their shareholders meeting.

Geeking Out

Y’know…my birthday is coming soon

Organizing Theory

A new Medium team wants to teach organizers the best productivity apps to use in political & community organizing contexts.

From Partners

Moshe Marvit takes a look at the recent Supreme Court decision around forced arbitrations, and concludes that it may make matters worse for workers in other ways, too.

The Aspen Institute launched a Gig Economy Data Hub last week.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…any movement that wants to address economic inequality in this country must have a financial agenda and a political one.” Will the #BankBlack movement help move the needle on racial inequality?

Possibly unprecedented: Bloomberg columnist tells companies to stop whining about skills gap, start raising wages.

We’ve moved pretty firmly into an era where internet access is an economic driver. So why isn’t access to broadband (which millions of Americans lack) an issue in more electoral campaigns?

Some of us talk about the birth lottery on a regular basis—here’s a detailed portrayal of exactly how it works to capture wealth for the top 10% of Americans. h/t to Mustafa Rashed for this one.

“It’s like a whole city scavenger hunt.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“It’s like a whole-city scavenger hunt.” The electric scooter-charging workforce is teenaged and (dare I say it?) hard-charging.

Is converting to worker-ownership one way of fighting against the #metoo culture in the restaurant industry?

Uber just announced that they would start providing health care to 150K drivers in the EU. Why not in the US?

Gas prices are going up for everyone—but it’s hurting Uber & Lyft drivers, as the ride rates aren’t going up.

From Partners

This new paper from World Resources Report shows that more than 50% of workers in the global south are informally employed, and examines some strategies that cities can take to better include these workers in protections and contracting.

Check out this new video from NELP and the Partnership for Working Families about how Uber and other platform companies are using state pre-emption laws to their advantage.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Amazon is selling facial recognition software to police departments. That can’t end well.

Are you as confused as I am about the impact of the new GDPR rules established by the EU? If so, here’s a healthy explainer that might make all those emails clogging your inbox go down just a little more smoothly.

Geeking Out

Starting a bike delivery worker-owned coop? This free software might be right for you. (At least, if you’re in the EU.)

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

We’ve seen a few instances of worker-owned cooperatives in the home care space—but what about the rest of health care?

“Food is the platform for selling you everything else.” Why Amazon acquired Whole Foods, in a nutshell.

Freelance Isn’t Free Act has recouped over $250K for NYC freelancers, just one year in

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Last week was the one-year anniversary of NYC’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act—the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs put out a report on their year one activity, showing they’d recouped more than $250K in late or unpaid invoices for freelancers.

Facing pressure by activists and victims of sexual violence, Uber & Lyft announced last week that they would no longer require victims to pursue remedies through mandatory arbitration.

Freelance contracting sites Fiverr and AND CO want to start taking steps to protect freelancers from sexual harassment, with new contract language.

How will rental car companies adapt, in the age of self-driving cars?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Should everyone sign up to drive for Uber at some point? The Rideshare Guy thinks so.

A look at what one UNITE HERE local is doing to fight against the sexual harassment of female hotel workers.

This new paper looks at the effect of minimum wage increases, and concludes that higher minimum wages would help ameliorate income inequality.

Meet Larry Williams Jr., founder of Unionbase

Original Content
Have you wanted to set up a social site for your union, but don’t want to give all your members’ data to Facebook? Check out my interview with Unionbase founder, Larry Williams Jr.
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 ($2/mo?) to help us keep it up and running.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
No doubt you’ve seen the news that various Senate Democrats who may or may not have 2020 aspirations recently co-sponsored the biggest proposed changes to federal labor law in many decades.

Excellent worker-coop news out of Cleveland, where the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry is about to triple in size, thanks to their innovative partnership with the Cleveland Clinic.

Larry Mishel dives deep into the math of how he determined that average hourly wages for Uber drivers are less than $10 in this new paper.

The death of a Philly Caviar bike delivery person prompts the question: what kinds of compensaton benefits are gig economy companies avoiding, by classifying their workers as independent contractors?

What’s Going on in the Workforce
Unite HERE’s Culinary 226 is bargaining about the impact of automation on their workforce, in their contracts with Vegas hotels.

“The gig economy is not the future of work. The future of work, however, will center around and resemble today’s freelance economy because freelancing meets human needs.”

Chinese millennials in the tech industry are pushing back against the country’s “996” culture (referring to the expectation that people work from 9a-9p, 6 days per week.

“I know it when I see it.” New report from Barclay’s about the potential impact of automation on jobs is worth reading for no other reason than that it quotes the famous test of indecency, as an example of things that AI has a really hard time doing, and humans don’t.

Is technology helping to burn out doctors?

“Criminalisation renders sex workers unable to lay claim to any of the basic labour rights afforded workers in legal industries.” You’re not hearing much about the fight against FOSTA in labor circles, but it is a labor rights fight.

Reputation, reputation, reputation
Imagine if, instead of using algorithmic predictions to over-surveil communities of color, police departments used them to keep an eye on corporate criminals?

Geeking Out
While some of Boston Dynamics robots make us worried about the rise of Skynet, this one seems to be causing people no worries at all, as it looks like it will fall over in a hard wind.

You’ll get a charge out of this

What’s Going on in the Workforce
When they said that technology would create jobs we couldn’t imagine five years ago, I didn’t think they were talking about being a scooter-recharger.

I guess if your boss is monitoring your emotional state via WIRELESS SENSORS ATTACHED TO  YOUR BRAIN, he can’t really get that upset when he figures out you’re mad at him.

Target is testing in-store robots to help with restocking.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos probably aren’t both in the running to be the next Bond villain—but maybe they should be.

Reputation, reputation, reputation
How ICE mines local police databases to sweep up immigrants.

I’m trying to imagine what would happen if I did my job wrong 92% of the time. That’s the error rate this facial recognition system has been coming up with, and yet it’s somehow still in use…


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Worker coops are providing vital child care to women who work in informal economies, world-wide.

The NYC Controller’s office took a look at how Airbnb is impacting access to affordable housing in the city.

Unite HERE is lobbying against California state workers being able to use peer-to-peer services on work-related travel.


Can free trade teach us something about how to respond to technological unemployment?

From Partners
The Century Foundation examines the prospect of technological unemployment—and posits that TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance) might provide a blueprint for creating policy solutions for workers who are displaced by automation.
Check out this new toolkit, produced by the Ella Baker Center, Enlace & Black Alliance for Just Immigration, for building campaigns for Freedom Cities.

What’s Going on in the Workforce
How much have you heard about the fast food workers in Portland who won a NLRB election last week? Me neither.
Cornell has put out an analysis of workers’ wages on Mechanical Turk, showing that the average crowd-worker earns a median wage of $2/hour.

Geeking Out
The Onlabor blog takes a look at the law around forced labor, in the US—and exceptions to the 13th Amendment.

Organizing Theory
Students from some of the country’s most elite business schools penned this op ed about why business schools should do a better job of teaching students how to consider the needs of workers, not just shareholders.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Head of HR at the Gates Foundation talks about the practical implications of giving new parents (of any gender) 52 weeks off to bond with a new child.

It’s been a long-term dream of mine to use a gif from The Wire in HtU…


Original Content
Earlier in the month, I talked to David Unger about his work to educate high school students in New York about their rights at work.
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 ($2/mo?) to help us keep it up and running.

Geeking Out
Robots assemble an Ikea chair. One wonders how much whiskey was consumed.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Taxi coops are much better for drivers than platforms like Uber & Lyft.
Survey Monkey just decided to offer benefits to their subcontractors—including health insurance, time off & transportation.


What’s Going on in the Workforce
Long, but interesting read about the perils of crab fishing in Alaska.
British reporter goes undercover in an Amazon warehouse, discovers bottle filled with urine, as workers don’t feel they have time to go to the bathroom.
The push for a 28-hour workweek continues in Germany, spreading to other unions beyond IG Metall.
Is Uber luring people away from restaurant jobs (I guess the tipped minimum wage isn’t too hard to overcome)?


Reputation, reputation, reputation
Women, we need to get involved in AI, before it’s full of male-programmed bias.


Robot of the Week
Because what’s better than Alexa creepily & inexplicably laughing in your house? Well, what if Alexa could follow you around while doing so?