‘I didn’t know what the union was for’

Organizing Theory
 ‘I didn’t know what the union was for,’ he said, ‘but now I can see that it’s the thing that we have to take a collective stand for ourselves and for others. It gives us our voice.’ Read this fascinating description of how Australian call center workers rebuilt their union around solidarity—even non-workplace solidarity.
What’s Going on in the Workforce
 
The Independent Drivers’ Guild is claiming victory, as New York City’s TLC is proposing changes to minimum standards for driver pay that they claim will raise most drivers’ pay over $9,000 per year.
Uber is expanding their food delivery market to include grocery delivery as well—starting in Toronto.   The company has also announced changes to driver pay rates (for ride-sharing drivers), which have some drivers grumbling on message boards.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is introducing a bill to codify the ABC test for independent contractors into state law (recently the CA Supreme Court issued the Dynamax decision, which used the ABC test—but gig economy companies have been lobbying politicians to overturn it legislatively).
Walmart is rolling out janitorial robots.
The Nation’s Michelle Chen takes a look at the nail salon industry, three years after the NY Times expose on working conditions in the industry. Upshot? Not much has changed for workers.
Geeking Out
So this is an ad, just to be clear. But it’s still a cool use of tech. Schweppes built a dress with sensors, to prove to men that women aren’t lying when they say how much they get groped in clubs.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
The way Amazon treats its third-party marketplace is under investigation by a German anti-trust agency.  And Saul Kaplan takes a look at what Amazon’s entry into the healthcare market could entail.
Airbnb is getting into the business of building houses.
How Janus is making public sector unions in University of Illinois at Chicago work together, backfiring against the administration’s plans to weaken their organized workforce.

“Capital can’t concentrate in areas where capital doesn’t exist.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
“Capital can’t concentrate in areas where capital doesn’t exist.” Yup. It’s going to take more than Black communities’ own resources to close the racial wealth divide in the US.
#BlackFridays just concluded with their ultimate day of action on Black Friday. Here’s a good look at how this movement came to be.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
You maybe remember I wrote a piece about how worker organization will need to develop tools & skills to manage online reputation, a few years ago. If you need more impetus to do that, check out this creepy story about AI-crawling of babysitters’ social media pages, and rating them as appropriate caregivers. (If you didn’t want your teenaged daughter to post selfies, why did you give her a phone?)
Organizing Theory
What can activists learn from corporations about how to successfully “franchise” events and campaigns?
OSF has just released a report assessing new technologies that have been developed to empower & inform migrants about their employment & other legal rights.
From Partners
Are you a tech worker? Are you planning on applying for a job with Amazon in Queens? If not, sign this petition.
Geeking Out
Is this kitchen haunted? or just automated?

It’s time to move your membership campaign out of the development department…

Organizing Theory
Long, but interesting read about how membership programs should move out of the development department, and live more fully in organizations.
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman has thoughts about how electoral tech producers are failing us in their design efforts, and what to do to fix it.
What’s Going on in the Workforce
 
The NLRA just took a whack at baggage handling workers who had voted to join the IAM, potentially threatening the unionization of airport workers around the country.
What turns someone from a very-skilled hobbyist into a professional? WaPo looks at a new study that says participation in online crafting forums can be a key indicator and confidence-builder.
Lyft has announced changes to their driver policies, including that the app will default to a five-star rating for a ride that is not rated by the rider.
Almost 70% of ride-share drivers went on strike in Mumbai this weekend, and then marched to deliver a message to the state legislative session on Monday.
A recent decision by Australia’s Fair Work Commission may put the independent contractor model of delivery apps at risk.
Events
NELP and the NWLC are co-hosting a webinar about how advocates can fight forced arbitration clauses and other waivers at work. Tuesday, 12/4 at 3 eastern.
Geeking Out
What I didn’t know I needed for Christmas—the Sorry to Bother You study guide.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
CityLab takes a look at how corporate America—particularly big box stores—is fighting paying property taxes through “dark store theory,” which compares the value of stores that are open to ones that have shuttered, instead of other open stores.
Add Cook County, IL to the list of locations that have decided to invest in worker-owned cooperatives.

Can we get to a four-day workweek before 2100?

What’s Going on in the Workforce
 
Do we really have to wait till the end of the century to shorten the working week to four days? Please say no.
Fast food chains are hiring more senior citizens than young adults, and Bloomberg is cheering them on.
Amazon is moving to directly hire delivery drivers this holiday season, instead of contenting to subcontract that work (or use the postal service more).
Uber has been fined over $1 million in CA for failing to suspend drivers, after riders complained about them driving while intoxicated.
Walmart is joining the AI-focused retail trend, and will open a “retail lab” in an existing store in NY.
The Australian Ride Share Drivers Association says that more than 50% of drivers quit driving for apps within three months, because the pay isn’t worth it. (With a turnover rate like that, maybe the industry should invest in job improvements?)
Organizing Theory
The ED of Action Network, on how they partnered with OUR, Change to Win, and the AFL-CIO to build a technology tool informed by what organizers need.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Two legal professors examine the future of local regulation of the sharing economy.
After last week’s mobilization by thousands of Google workers, the company has made a few concessions around the way they will handle sexual harassment complaints, moving forward.

Go vote (but save this newsletter to read later)!


What’s Going on in the Workforce
 
The Freelancers Union just put out their annual report on the freelance workforce, in conjunction with Upwork.
Florida farmworkers are subject to greater health risks at work, thanks to climate change.
You probably saw that nearly 20,000 Google employees walked out last week, from offices all over the world. Here are the organizers, on what their demands are.
“You’re not an Amazon driver if you haven’t run a stop sign.” On the workers who AREN’T getting $15/hour, in Amazon’s new pay regime.
If, like me, you’re annoyed by stores playing Christmas music before December 1st, imagine what it’s like to work in one of those stores.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
“The fact that we’re able to put the technology in the hands of people with a low income–that is really a useful way of resisting this weaponization of income,” so says the founder of an app that is helping people apply for citizenship.
Investors are already lining up to buy housing stock in whatever city “wins” Amazon’s HQ2.
On the ballot in LA today? Whether or not the city should create a public bank.
Sarah Jaffe, on how the strikes of the past year are helping  build power for teachers’ unions around the country.

“A working class hero is something to be.”

In Memoriam

It’s been a hell of a week in America, but the thing that has me personally reeling the most is the news that my friend and longtime coworker Cathy Brady passed away unexpectedly at the end of last week. Cathy was one of the most bad-ass organizers I ever knew, a working class hero who broke boundaries for women in at least three industries. Juliana Reyes from the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a beautiful piece about her work, including her fight to build America’s first labor monument, in Southwest Philly. Read it here, and then, if you have some scratch, kick down a few bucks for Cathy’s memorial.


A correction from last week’s newsletter—the local president who wrote that great piece about ICE boarding Greyhound was from the ATU, not the TWU.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Uber is giving money & rides to non-profits. Nice idea, too bad it took them so long to come up with it.

“Hopefully we’re the OutKast of black tech.” On building a Black tech incubation community in Atlanta.

A new study out of Vanderbilt shows that union women are more likely than non-union women to take maternity leave.

Organizing Theory

So you want to run an artist-led space for programming? Read this first.

Geeking Out

The “Gabbie” chat bot helps Filipino victims of sexual harassment or violence understand their rights and take action against their harassers.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

If a restaurant doesn’t serve customers food in their actual restaurant, is it actually a restaurant? I’ve recently heard these called “ghost kitchens” but that name doesn’t really work for me, either. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-24/uber-s-secret-empire-of-virtual-restaurants

Being a poultry processor is about to get worse, as the Trump Administration relaxes safety rules. Because being a poultry worker was such an incredibly safe job, before. http://www.foodandpower.net/2018/10/25/workers-fear-injury-as-administration-clears-way-for-faster-chicken-slaughter/

So many Uber strikes & actions.

The Perils of Trumpism

I really want to make a joke about how you need human intelligence, to be able to appreciate artificial intelligence, and that’s why the Trump Administration is losing the AI war to China. But it’ll make me sad, so maybe I’ll just go text some more voters instead.

“…it soon became a beans on toast life.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“…I got a knee injury. I couldn’t work for three months, and there was no sick pay from Deliveroo. I got a bit of statutory sick pay and my grandparents gave me £50 a week, but it soon became a beans on toast life.” Deliveroo & Uber drivers in the UK talk about their struggles with unpredictable income. “…it’s tough to make a living as a full-time driver since you lose a lot of the flexibility and earnings that make the job so desirable.” Can you make a living wage, as more and more people become ride-share drivers? (I bet the taxi drivers already know the answer to this question.)

Odd-job app Handy charges so many fees to its “Pros” (aka workers) that sometimes they’re just working to pay off their debt to the company. Yikes.

Nithin Coca takes a look at the strikes happening in gig economy companies across the globe.

Do workers who are overly-surveilled respond to it by trying even harder to cheat the system?

Millions of American workers believe they are bound by non-compete contracts, even when they live in states that won’t enforce them. The result? Lower wage growth & less economic mobility.

Organizing Theory

“…distributed organizing requires a commitment to build a support structure and to try out some new approaches.” Blueprint for Change, on distributed organizing.

If you only read one thing in this newsletter this week, make it this: TWU president of the local that represents Greyhound drivers pens amazing op ed about how ICE should stop boarding buses without probably cause or a warrant.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Boston’s former CIO has some interesting thoughts about how to change the fees cities charge ridesharing services, to disincentivized traffic. Since a recent study found that nearly half of SF’s traffic woes were related to ride-hailing, this idea deserves serious consideration.

“…women show more interest in those who do not impact big politics or big business, but whose lives are invariably affected by both.”


What’s Going on in the Workforce

“While mainstream media often showcases the big players and global change makers, women show more interest in those who do not impact big politics or big business, but whose lives are invariably affected by both.” On an experiment to launch a site where experienced female journalists curate the news.

The TWU in Columbus, OH is gearing up to fight autonomous buses & a corresponding reduction in decent-paying jobs.

Uber just asked the SEC to let it offer equity to drivers.

Organizing Theory

SEIU homecare local launches debit card that members can have paychecks deposited directly into, in wake of Janus decision.

Matt Ewing explains how a dating app informed the design of Swing Left’s app that connects progressives with swing district campaigns.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“…there’s a very widespread dissatisfaction with Facebook. It’s been criticized almost constantly by everybody. And yet, somehow, people are still on it.” Jaron Lanier explains the network effect, and other facets of BUMMER businesses.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Douglas Rushkoff argues that, instead of UBI, we should be fighting for an ownership stake.

Got an Amazon Web Services account, and based in NY, SF or Tokyo? Amazon is setting out free coworking space for you.

Robot of the Week

My trainer evidently thinks that I’m capable of turning into a Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, because she tried to get me to do this exact thing last week.

What does Unite HERE’s new contract have to do with robots?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Robots are coming to the service industry in Las Vegas—and the Culinary Union has negotiated contract language to help their members prepare.

Amazon seems to be telling their delivery subcontractors that they can’t employ drivers on 1099s, but must pay hourly.

As of 2020, the World Health Organization will no longer require interns to subsidize their own internships, in order to do a better of job of attracting interns from the lowest-wealth countries.

Lawyers representing a limo company in Southern CA just asked a judge to declare all Uber drivers employees, on the basis of the Dynamax decision.

A new British study shows that AI could “give back” 12 days a year to workers by 2030, mostly through automating administrative tasks.

Organizing Theory

As you read this, ask yourself: “Why do Americans think it’s mostly the responsibility of individuals to prepare themselves for a future with less (or significantly different) work, more than any other institution?”

Blueprints for Change has a new organizing manual out, in draft form—“Using Facebook Groups for Organizing.”

Geeking Out

When they come to ask you, “are you a machine or a human?” apparently the best answer is scatological.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“If they were going to fight discrimination at work — wage theft, health risks, sexual harassment — they needed to think about violence against women in both their public and private lives.” How immigrant women in California started a network of safe houses for women experiencing domestic violence.

A partner from Price Waterhouse Cooper looks at the data, and concludes that the BLS undercounted gig workers & freelancers, in their recent survey.

How unions built cooperatively owned housing in New York City—and fought with the Trump family every step of the way.

“…this was a racist law and violation of workers’ rights and constitutional rights.”

Organizing Theory

“…this was a racist law and violation of workers’ rights and constitutional rights.” A great interview with a vice-president of FLOC, on how farmworkers in North Carolina keep organizing despite multiple challenges in an anti-union state.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Puerto Rico just made it easier for people to start energy coops.

Coworker is tracking which US companies are giving employees time off to vote, in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections.

Chelsea Rustrum explains how Airbnb’s desire to share equity with super hosts could show us the way to more platforms recognizing that they need to reward users in ways that traditional brick and mortar companies don’t.

Ford, Uber & Lyft announce a universal data standard for reporting the use of shared ride services, so they can share this data with public transit systems & city planners.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Facebook constantly harangues you to set up two-factor authentication. Then they use your phone number to target more ads, even if you don’t have it listed on your FB profile. Sigh…

From Partners

The Tech Workers Coalition is expanding, announcing new meet ups in Philly & Boston. Join their listserv to find out when they’re coming to your city (or to be the person who starts it there).

The Trump DOL just revised the joint-employer standard, and it is…not good. Read more about it from NELP, and submit a comment from your organization.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Is Uber setting itself up for the death by a thousand cuts? With a new ruling that drivers can’t join class actions but must pursue individual arbitrations, it’s possible.

“Until the barriers that stop women from having an equal stab at reaching the top are cleared away, #MeToo will struggle to succeed.” The Economist takes a look at what changes the #metoo movement has wrought in workplaces.

While traditional taxi drivers embrace new regulations in Madrid, Uber drivers strike to protest them.

Geeking Out

Tim Berners-Lee, on his plans to disrupt his own invention, the World Wide Web.

“More is not necessarily better.” An exceptionally excellent look at the lessons that can be learned from the civic tech graveyard, by Micah Sifry.

Jobs

Our friends at Spendrise are expanding, and they’re looking to hire two new part-time, temp positions—a Senior Campaign Strategist and a Content Strategist.