Nearly 25% of Americans earned income on platforms last year

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From Partners

Pew finds that nearly 25% of Americans earned some kind of income from the platform economy last year, in this new report.

Interested in writing about precarious work? Check out this call for papers.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

A new, black-owned ride-sharing app wants to serve the communities Uber & Lyft are leaving behind, in the US & Africa. And Sweden is looking to ban for-profit ride-sharing, but is pro-carpooling.

The CEO of Honor talks about why he founded a company to combine tech with home care, why they chose to make everyone a W-2 employee, and what they see in the future of human-centered business.

Geeking Out

We’re missing out on the opportunity to start regulating the Internet of Things, because the federal government can’t decide which agency should lead.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Yet another gig economy company changes its service fee/tipping policy, resulting in a cut in workers’ pay.

I mean, I guess if you’re eating at a restaurant that serves Pizza Hut instead of actual pizza, you won’t mind if you’re served by a robot instead of a human?

And while we’re on the subject of job-destroying automation, check out Amazon’s take on the cashier-less store.

Events

Data scientists in Washington State want to talk about how to use their skills to help answer questions for social service & policy-based organizations.

All day, every day, #fightfor15

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What’s Going on in the Workforce

I hope you enjoyed your turkey last week. You might have rethought it, if you’d seen this insider on the poultry industry before choosing the menu…

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network just launched an app for reporting wage theft.

Europe’s top court is about to decide whether Uber is a transportation company, or a digital company, for purposes of regulation.

“Shitty jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problems we now face.” Welp. My work here is done.

Organizing Theory

Seattle recently released the set of rules that will govern union elections in the ride-sharing industry. Shockingly, Uber & Lyft aren’t happy.

Ben Werdmuller has a different take on whether Twitter can & should be turned into a user-owned coop.

From Partners

The Brookings Institute is hosting a discussion (in person and online) about autonomous vehicles and transforming transportation. Details here.


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Some gig economy companies are planning to introduce legislation to allow them to create benefits for their independent contractors in New York next year. And on that note—the Independent Driver’s Guild in NYC has won an agreement that deactivated drivers will have the right to appeal that decision to a panel of their peers.

What motivates gig economy workers?

Office life: business team during a meeting

Office life: business team during a meeting

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“Because the supply of gig labor is liquid and comprised largely of part-time workers, employers like Uber have more flexibility to adjust wages and working conditions —but it’s their most dedicated workers who are affected most.” Strong work on what motivates gig economy workers, by Alex Rosenblat.

The taxi industry in Los Angeles is paying for LAPD sting operations that target Uber & Lyft drivers.

Gig economy companies are having a tough time retaining workers, as they cut wages and the overall economy adds jobs. But some kinds of freelance work is still picking up, especially in expensive housing markets.

The Future of Music just published this fascinating survey data on the income of working musicians.

Geeking Out

Will the Hyperloop revolutionize shipping, as well as passenger transport?


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Instacart workers threaten strike the week of Thanksgiving, over the app’s change in tipping policy.

An on-demand app for finding family caregivers just launched in the UK.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Digital security tips for protestors, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I wish I could think of a decent subject line this week, but I’m fresh out.

Original Content

Finding a bright spot in the darkness…the Freelancers’ Union recently won an historic victory in NYC, where they passed the first-ever bill to prevent wage theft for 1099ers. Watch my interview with Caitlin Pearce & see how you can bring that effort to your own city.

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.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Let’s insist on participatory budgeting from our new national government…it’s gonna work for Portugal!

While we’re on the subject of doing things for ourselves, check out these Mexican groups who started their own cooperatively-owned telecom service.


Reputation, reputation, reputation

I might have to turn this blog into an all-security all-the time endeavor. Until that happens, read this Guardian piece on making your communications more secure from the threats of a Trump NSA, and this Digg explainer on how to browse the web anonymously.

ProPublica has pressured Facebook to stop selling ads for housing and jobs that target (or prohibit) users by race. Now if they could only figure out a way to stop allowing people to post coded racism in the form of memes…

Organizing Theory

Not a piece I wrote for HtU, but I do have thoughts about the recent election, 1994—and what it should mean for progressive organizers.

From Partners

Friend-o-the-blog Moshe Marvit on how a little-noticed judicial rule change is making it harder to hold corporations accountable.

What if Twitter was owned by its users? Thanks to Nathan Schneider for this innovative campaign.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Harvard B-school professor “stop looking for jobs.”

Great piece by MIT Technology Review about what it’s like in a factory town when robots get involved in American manufacturing.

Why are you even opening this email? Go vote!

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Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

It’s Election Day, so to get your attention away from those polls, have some Baywatch clickbait. Here’s Pamela Anderson starring in an anti-ride-sharing PSA.

Instacart’s changes in the tipping policy continue to confuse customers.


Reputation, reputation, reputation

Um. Yeah, sure, I want to give Uber access to my calendar. What could possibly go wrong there?

From Partners

The US Department of Labor is beta-testing a new website to deliver occupation-specific labor advice to workers.

Aspen Institute’s Maureen Conway has written a new paper about the Future of Work and what philanthropy can do about it.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“Last year, the company (Amazon) spent $11.5 billion on shipping while only generating $6.5 billion, according to its annual report…” Interesting look at the pressure that free shipping is placing on supply chain retailers.

It’s not every day that you get to read a comparison between marijuana farming and salmon farming, but here you go—will Humboldt County end up like an Alaskan fishing village? (Maybe in Civ 7, I haven’t seen it crop up in Civ 6 yet).

Looks like Al Franken has joined the list of US Senators worried about discrimination in the gig economy—check out his letter to Uber and Lyft. Uber is also getting sued for employment misclassification—but not by a driver, this time—by a bike courier.

Couple is a new on-demand service in the UK, where similar service sector businesses can pool employees (think hotel catering staff).

Gigster is figuring out how to give equity to their freelancers—in the companies they’re setting up gigs with.

46% of workers in the global economy are precariously employed.

voting-robot
Don’t let the robots outvote you next week…

What’s Going on in the Workforce

A new UN report just found that 46% of the GLOBAL workforce are engaged in precarious work. Maybe time to do something about that, eh?

The Obama Administration is tapping gig economy companies to help recruit people to the ACA, during this year’s open enrollment period. And with an on-the-way-out-the-door focus on workers’ rights, the Administration is also urging a ban on non-compete agreements for low-wage workers, who usually are not privy to trade secrets (special sauce notwithstanding).

As you’ve probably seen, a British tribunal ruled last week that two Uber drivers are employees, not contractors—and deserve minimum wage and paid time off.

Geeking Out

“In the future, you may not even think of them as cars, the way we do today.” Check out this self-driving shuttle that’s already been deployed on private roads in France, Switzerland and Australia.

Organizing Theory

Josh Eidelson has a great piece up at Bloomberg News about the newly-organized Independent Drivers Guild.

Interesting piece by the Century Foundation’s Shayna Strong on the business model challenges of new worker organizations.

From Partners

NELP released a new poll last week, showing voter attitudes about contracting out, and documenting best messages to use when talking about subcontracting.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Major shout out to our friends at the Freelancers’ Union, for their victory last week in the Freelance isn’t Free campaign, which just won the first-ever wage theft bill that will protect independent contractors!

UPS talks about the importance of thinking through the logistics of developing a more circular economy.

Here’s a new ride-sharing service with a slightly different business model from Uber & Lyft—they charge $1 to connect riders with drivers (drivers keep the rest of the fee).

Up next, self-flying taxis. Yes, I said self-flying.

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Coop advocates testify at Philly City Council yesterday.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Black worker centers are helping form co-ops, to address issues of African American unemployment.

Do the waning days of this election fill you with despair about the state of our democracy? Read this story about participatory budgeting, and prepare to have your faith restored.

Two Airbnb stories this week: first, you’ve no doubt seen that NYC recently limited short-term rentals to no less than 30 days (which only hits people renting out their whole space, not the true “spare room” Airbnb hosts). And second, the company donated $100K to a ballot measure aimed at building housing for the homeless in Los Angeles, a notable PR move for a company that’s been accused of exacerbating homelessness.

Geeking Out

Tesla has announced that all of their new vehicles will have the hardware necessary for self-driving capability. But before you get any ideas about running your self-driving Tesla through Uber while you sleep, that’s not gonna fly, apparently. And speaking of flying, if you really want to geek out over expensive rides, check out Airbus’ proposal to build self-flying taxis.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

In Lahore? You’ll now be able to catch an Uber rickshaw. And in other Uber global news, they’re starting to make car loans to drivers in Nigeria.

Glassdoor just announced a new tool that will increase pay transparency, by showing you what other people in your region with similar years of experience & skill earn for the same/similar jobs.

Singapore is testing self-driving buses.


Reputation, reputation, reputation

Businesses with racist hiring practices are more likely to fail, according to a new study from Harvard.

Organizing Theory

Here are some interesting lessons, for those who want to build organizing apps, from a guy who went through seven years of building political organizing software.

“Do you even own a paper map?”

Original Content

A website aimed at organizing more low-wage workers into unions launched last week—check out my post about it here.

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.

Geeking Out

Who wants to give me a travel grant to go to this conference? You know you want to read my take on Love & Sex with Robots…

“Do you even own a paper map?” How’s your disaster plan developing, for when a global crisis makes your cell phone stop working? (PS-I own several paper maps, but they’re all of Pennsylvania. Do I need others?)

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

How 10 US cities have created policies to help the development of worker-owned coops (if you’re in Philly, there’s a City Council hearing about this Monday—let’s be #11!). And an in-depth look at one newly-formed NYC coop.

Advocates in NYC are worried that the city might be moving to formalize a relationship with ride-sharing companies, in a way that will disadvantage wheelchair-bound customers.


Reputation, reputation, reputation

Police in Ferguson and Baltimore have used social media to track and spy on Black Lives Matter organizers.

Organizing Theory

From, of all places, Bill Moyers—a good look at what makes an online petition effective.

From Partners

Fascinating presentation, from the ILO’s Valerio De Stefano, that looks back at the legal theory behind centuries of workers’ rights organizing, and updates it for the platform work of today.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

A founder talks about why he’s turning his consulting company over to worker-ownership, and how they’re structuring a global worker-owned company.

How is Juno pulling drivers away from Uber & Lyft? Well for one, they’ve got a 24-hour line that gets answered by a human, for drivers to call.

Instacart has reversed their decision to remove in-app tipping. I guess the outcry from both customers and shoppers worked!

Uber bought a self-driving truck company earlier this year—now they’re saying they’ll have some elements of self-driving trucking in 2017.

How will “smart manufacturing” impact global supply chains?

A Japanese ad agency has been raided by labor inspectors, after a worker committed suicide that was attributed to overwork.

New website seeks to organize workers with electronic union cards

A newly-launched website, Unionize Me, hopes to enlist large numbers of low-wage workers in winning NLRB elections. Founded by lawyer Jason Zoladz, the site hopes to take advantage of the NLRB’s 2015 decision to allow workers to sign union authorization cards electronically.

Zoladz is hoping to shift the conversation in the US, to focus on the fact that low-wage workers (who have been striking in large numbers through the Fight for 15 campaign) need bargaining power with their specific companies.

“2 million Wal-Mart workers need a union,” Zoladz told me ( a fact that few readers of this site would dispute).

When we spoke, the site had only been live for 6 days, but Zoladz had already received a number of electronic signatures on authorization cards. At that point, no one worksite had met the 30% trigger for a union election. Zoladz does not intend to organize one stand-alone business at a time, however—he wants to wait until a reasonable majority of workers in one specific region have signed, so that workers will be able to take actions from a position of strength.

It remains to be seen whether a mostly-lawyer based strategy can flip the script on winning union elections—but I’ll be curious to see how this plays out, over time.