“This is bigger than Amazon.”

Organizing Theory

“This is bigger than Amazon.” An amazing look at the community organizing that led to Amazon’s pulling out of Queens—as well as what that means for similar campaigns in Nashville and Northern Virginia. Congrats to all my friends who have been in this fight! 

Is this what work-to-rule looks like in lawyer? 12,501 Uber drivers have filed for arbitration since August 2018. 

SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaign is fighting a case at the NLRB that claims that janitors picketing the property that they work in (while being employed by a subcontractor) is a secondary boycott. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Finland’s basic income experiment (which only funded people who were unemployed) has succeeded in making those people happier—but hasn’t changed whether they got jobs (do we all need jobs, to be happy?). 

Controversial take: capitalism can ruin anything, even solar panels on your roof

Facing South takes a look at how the Green New Deal can help the South close its energy-efficiency gap. 

Geeking Out

Your job-killing robot of the week—this one installs drywall

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Still not creeped out by Amazon’s facial recognition technology? What if it’s being used to track you at work

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Freelancers who bill by the hour are more likely to be stressed over feeling like they’ve got to be “always on.” 

2 million workers (most of them women) had to quit their jobs in 2016, because they couldn’t find adequate, affordable child- or elder-care. We need an holistic solution. 

Shocking possibly no one who knows me in real life, I too have been fired for not smiling enough. Now, fast food workers in New York are taking on their bosses’ ability to fire at will

“Undervaluing low-wage work as ‘low-skill’ is often untrue and unfair…”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“Undervaluing low-wage work as ‘low-skill’ is often untrue and unfair, but it also undermines our economic future.” Byron Auguste breaks down why workforce development needs to acknowledge the many skills that low-wage working people bring to the table, and stop cutting them out of opportunities. 

Workers at meal-prep-kit company Blue Apron are suing their employer for wage theft. 

Last week’s story about Instacart stealing workers’ tips to pay wages has now morphed into this week’s story about Amazon Flex stealing workers’ tips to pay wages. The moral of this story? Tip in cash when you can. 

Thanks to organizing work by Warehouse Workers for Justice and the Warehouse Workers Resource Center, Walmart announced last week that it’s taking back control of warehouses that had been subcontracted in the Inland Empire and Illinois.

Events

The MIC (Media Inequality Change) Center is hosting a day and a half-long conference in Philly on March 25-26, called “The Platform Economy & the Future of the City.” 

Organizing Theory

I have…so many questions.  

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

After the news that Amazon, thanks to activism from thousands of New Yorkers, might be rethinking their quest to rake in $3B in tax subsidies to build a second headquarters in Queens emerged, groups in other HQ2 finalist cities are saying, “don’t look at us, Jeff!” 

“The problem is the growing certainty that you were sold a false bill of goods about the immeasurable value of higher education, and that’ll you’ll be forever paying down the cost of a broken dream.” Buzzfeed takes a look at how making sure people attain a college education went from a social responsibility to an individual one

Nancy Leong, on the problem of making diversity a “value” that can be commodified

“Long Lyft, Short Uber”

Geeking Out

“Long Lyft/Short Uber” In the run-up to both companies having their IPOs this year, one financial analyst says Uber’s a bad bet

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Data & Society looks at the labor involved in beginning to use new technologies in grocery stores and family farms in a new report

“The employer power and suppressed worker voice that precipitated the tragic fire have reemerged in today’s labor market.” What does the workplace of today have in common with the workplace of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire era? Excessive employer surveillance, at the expense of workers. 

From Partners 

Here’s a great piece of work (and petition) from my friends at Working Washington, about the way Instacart is using customers’ tips to pay employees’ wages.

The Opportunity Agenda takes a look at the best practices around engaging celebrities in political and social issues. 

Organizing Theory

When was the last time you did any craftivism

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Open Markets Institute takes a look at how grocery store consolidation is affecting family farms and workers’ wages

Texas organizers are wondering who influenced a new rule in the state that classifies gig workers who get work through online platforms as “marketplace contractors” instead of workers, for the purposes of avoiding unemployment eligibility. 

“Solidarity doesn’t happen overnight.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Solidarity doesn’t happen overnight.” The great Sarah Jaffe, on the organizing that brought the LA teachers to victory

A look at research about whether worker cooperatives can remain democratically run, as they grow larger. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

MIT researchers just slammed Amazon’s Rekognition program, stating that it does a poor job of identifying people who are not white cisgendered men. Great thing that the DoD, VA, NY and TN are poised to give them all that money, right?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that employers have a responsibility to protect worker data, in a key case against University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Organizing Theory

Excellent new piece from Blueprints for Change on some principles for building networked coalitions

Geeking Out

“…a substantial portion of women who had the means and opportunity began to prefer their robot companions to their boyfriends or husbands.” Cathy O’Neil takes a shot at imagining a utopian world where cyborgs have taken the danger out of sex for women—by removing the threats that are created by some men. 


Ever wonder what Jeff Bezos’ entire empire looks like? Check out this visualization


What’s Going on in the Workforce

The US may be moving to a Japan-like future, as our working-age population shrinks with the reduction of immigration caused by Trump. Will it cause Americans to retire even later (if at all?) 

Spanish taxi drivers are fighting a pitched battle against Uber & Lyft, including working to introduce legislation that would require booking a ride share at least an hour in advance of the trip. 

Waymo is betting that Michigan’s long history as a center of automotive assembly will continue in the self-driving era. 

The same kind of automation that has been taking off in warehouses is being repurposed to take inventory in stores. 

Events
Mobilisation Lab will be holding a weeklong campaign accelerator in New York in April. 

“…precarity breeds innovation.”

Organizing Theory

“…precarity breeds innovation.” A look at youth organizing by unions and other forms of worker organization, in the UK, the US, Germany & France. 


The Chief Product Officer of 350. org says it’s time to get rid of your Digital Department—and think about how to merge digital into all aspects of your organizing work. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce


Japan’s robots are losing hotel work… 


Digg mapped the highest-paying job in each state. Being a doctor is fairly rewarding financially (if not always emotionally). 


Pennsylvania may be one of the first states to allow “platooning” with autonomous trucks. 


Reputation, reputation, reputation


Amazon shareholders have filed a resolution to get the company to stop selling surveillance technology to the government. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability


Shouldn’t investors also be worried about the potential impact of driver organizing? 


Is your Airbnb spying on you with secret cameras? 


Legal challenges and voter registration drives—what’s next for advocates who want to restore voting rights to returning citizens in the South?


“Local grocers that survived Walmart are now falling to Dollar General.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Local grocers that survived Walmart are now falling to Dollar General.” Great new report by ILSR on how dollar stores are targeting low-income communities as America’s permanent underclass—and how Tulsa, OK is fighting back. 


GrubHub is being sued by a Philly restaurant chain, who is alleging that the company is charging restaurants for phone calls that don’t actually result in food orders. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce


Uber is facing questions, after they “clarified” their policy on whether drivers can pick up unaccompanied minors (you can’t ride alone if you’re under 18, officially), by mentioning how it’s great that drivers can be there when parents can’t….


I have complicated feelings about a robot cafe, where the robots are controlled by people who are home-bound or physically disabled. 


“It might stay for a long time because it’s a matter of ego,” he says. “The shutdown is biting.” How the federal government shutdown is affecting taxi, Uber & Lyft drivers in DC. (And of course, that isn’t even mentioning the increased competition as some government workers turn to driving as a side hustle to pay their own rent.)


At the end of last year, Uber drivers in London won a ruling against the company that will force them to treat drivers as workers, not contractors.  And a French court just granted an Uber driver employment rights. 

Geeking Out
Kiss your carb-free New Year’s resolution goodbye, with this bread-bot



“People are in pain because unless you went to college, the only way you’ll earn a decent living is by breaking your body or risking your life”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“That’s the thing they don’t tell you about opiate addiction. People are in pain because unless you went to college, the only way you’ll earn a decent living is by breaking your body or risking your life — plumbers, electricians, steamfitters, welders, mechanics, cable guys, linemen, fishermen, garbagemen, the options are endless.”An amazing first-person narration of what it’s like to be the cable guy, even when you’re not a guy.


Are cannabis delivery companies luring Uber & Lyft drivers away with more stable pay & better benefits? 


Uber may be close to a settlement that pays drivers .11 per mile driven, in exchange for giving up their rights to pursue employee misclassification claims. 


“Through 2016, our analysis found that between the time older workers enter the study and when they leave paid employment, 56 percent are laid off at least once or leave jobs under such financially damaging circumstances that it’s likely they were pushed out rather than choosing to go voluntarily.” ProPublica & the Urban Institute have concluded that workers over 50 are more likely to be pushed out of jobs than they are to leave them voluntarily, resulting in huge economic consequences. 

Events


Want to up your digital game? Becker Strategies has announced dates for the three bootcamps they’ll be holding this year. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability


In the run-up to the holidays, Connecticut Lyft & Uber drivers staged a one-day strike. Let me know if you have contact with the folks who organized this! 


It’s possible that the 21st Century “Battle in Seattle” that will most impact gig worker organizing, is the one being conducted around collective bargaining rights for ride-sharing drivers. 


“Frankly, we should all be mad that the richest country in the world doesn’t care about workers’ well-being.” Well, yes. Welcome to the party, Digg. 


“Hiring is rarely a single decision, but rather a series of smaller, sequential decisions that culminate in a job offer—or a rejection.”

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“Hiring is rarely a single decision, but rather a series of smaller, sequential decisions that culminate in a job offer—or a rejection.” Upturn takes a look a bias in hiring algorithms


If Facebook’s tracking you all over the web (even when you’re not logged on to their site) isn’t creepy enough, don’t worry. Now they want to track your physical location, so they can predict where you’ll go next (the gym—>coffee shop isn’t just me?). 


Microsoft President Brad Smith is calling for the tech industry to create a set of principles around the use and development of facial recognition software—and outlines what Microsoft itself is specifically committing to do


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability


Congrats to the NDWA (and in particular, friend-o-the-blog Palak Shah) on their launch of Alia, which allows clients of domestic workers to make contributions for paid time off and other portable benefits. 


Here’s a cool data visualization of 206 of the 238 locations that put in bids for Amazon’s HQ2, thanks to Muckrock and journalists everywhere. 


Surely no one could have seen this coming…Instacart won’t be delivering Whole Foods any more, starting in 2019. 


Video game developers in the UK just formalized the world’s first game workers’ union


h/t to Annette Bernhardt for sending me this story about a Danish union that has achieved collective bargaining rights for platform domestic workers—including protecting workers’ data

From Partners 

Journalist Tony Abraham compiled this cool map of hospital strikes from the 1980s to now. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce
Before the fatal crash involving self-driving cars earlier this year, self-driving Uber test cars were apparently involved in an accident approximately ever 15,000 miles. I can’t imagine how expensive my car insurance would be, if that were me. 


Google aims to compete with Amazon with highly automated warehouses (like, one hundred robots for every human). They’ve already started, in China. 

Geeking Out


Why you gotta name your salad-prep robot with a woman’s name, anyway? 


For the last link in the last newsletter of the year, have some robotic reindeer pulling a sleigh


“We have these promised productivity benefits, and we wanted to think about ways workers can get a fair share of them.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce
 
“We have these promised productivity benefits, and we wanted to think about ways workers can get a fair share of them.” The four-day workweek, as practiced in the UK.
If your workplace doesn’t threaten to contaminate you with bear spray, are you really working?
Uber is back to testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, but some employees are anonymously worried that the company is cutting corners.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
“After nine years, Uber isn’t within hailing distance of making money and continues to bleed more red ink than any start-up in history.” Well then.
h/t to Jay Youngdahl for pointing this one out: Grad students at UNC are conducting a grade strike, saying they won’t hand in students’ grades until the university reverses its plan to construct a new building to house racist Confederate memorial “Silent Sam.”
The Tech Workers’ Coalition is stepping up their demand for an end to forced arbitrations at work. Check out their new post, that describes where they’re going next.  In a particularly timely coincidence, 12,000 Uber drivers just claimed that the company is denying them timely arbitration of their disputes.

‘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.