“Meaningful input best follows from meaningful voice and ownership.”

HTU will be on summer hiatus next week–so no newsletter next Tuesday.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Meaningful input best follows from meaningful voice and ownership.” The co-founder of food-sharing service Josephine explains why they’ve decided to give cooks equity (starting in 2017) in their platform.

Uber continues to get hammered for its discrimination against wheelchair-bound passengers.


Organizing Theory

I’m working on building a bot for FB Messenger, for a project at my day job. Would appreciate a chance to chat with any HTU readers who have experience with same. (Don’t know why bots are useful? Check out these two pieces.)

From Partners

Trebor Scholz & Nathan Schneider, organizers of last year’s Platform Coop conference, have organized a book made up of many of the talks given by presenters there. You can preorder it now.

Like the idea of a Universal Basic Income, but worried that it’s politically too hard to pass, because of the scourge of ‘lazy adult’ rhetoric? Check out TCF’s Andy Stettner, on why a universal child allowance makes sense for the US.

Geeking Out

The self-driving car dilemma (should it kill the passengers or pedestrians) isn’t a dilemma because of self-driving—it’s a dilemma because humans can’t agree on which lives have value.

I’m really hoping that technology will cure blindness (it’s only fair—increased screen time is definitely contributing to my worsening eyesight!).

Wondering when AI is going to pay off for you personally? Why not try a Gmail extension that claims to make your emails more effective?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

On a UBI vs. a Job Guarantee.

Uber’s move to start deploying self-driving cars in Pittsburgh is going to leave some of their staff very bored. Why? For legal reasons, a person still has to be behind the wheel—but Uber will want the passengers to interact with an iPad, not the driver. And in related Uber news—they’ve just purchased self-driving truck company Otto.

“…the digital gap does not have a basic closure benchmark that can be held up as an achievement; the goals are constantly shifting.”

Organizing Theory

“…the digital gap does not have a basic closure benchmark that can be held up as an achievement; the goals are constantly shifting.” Has the digital divide turned into more of a digital spectrum?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Massachusetts just set up a new process to regulate ride-sharing companies—and the mayor of Boston is not thrilled with the deal.

Coops in the UK are pioneering a new way of funding paid sick time for the self-employed, inspired by a model in the Netherlands. I’m wondering if any US coops have used a similar tactic? A different UK group have launched a crowd-funded vehicle for supporting worker-coops there. Curious, US friends, is there an equivalent fund here?

The founder of Zipcar has some ideas about the advance planning we need to do, to get ready for wide-scale adoption of self-driving vehicles.

Peter Barnes, on the need to think about rents in a new way, to steer our economy toward new outcomes.

Geeking Out

You say you need a new car? Why not try a vending machine

People driving too fast in your neighborhood? Install a robotic speed bump!

From Partners

Alex Rosenblat takes a tour around all the ways a ride-sharing app can commit wage-theft—whether intentionally or inadvertently.

The Century Foundation, on increasing worker-owned businesses as a vehicle to reducing income inequality.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Bringing manufacturing jobs back the US…one “robot-powered” factory at a time.

“…[people find sex work when they] have a financial situation that has to be met in some informal way. They’re downsizing; their hours are cut back; they’re going to school again; they’re a mom.” Priceonomics looks at the life of a phone sex operator.

Here’s an interesting new (at least to me) service to create incentives for improving employee recognition. Curious if any HtU readers have experience with Bonusly?

“Everyone’s hour is worth the same as everybody else’s”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Everyone’s hour is worth the same as everybody else’s.” Trying to remember when I have read a more radical sentence. On using time banking to build a just transition.

Many on-demand economy services require a smartphone—which puts them out of reach for those who don’t have one. This startup aims to connect riders to companies like Uber and Lyft through older-school technology (think, postcard).

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Remember last week’s story about Uber hiring a security firm to spy on unions in Seattle? Well, they’ve also apparently hired a private eye to spy on a Yale researcher, who’s suing them for anti-trust violations. Really not a good look.


Organizing Theory

The panel I moderated at CommonBound 2016, with Nathan Schneider, Micky Metts & Mario Liebrenz talking about tech and platform coops, is online now. Watch it here:

Seattle City Council is still working out the kinks of which drivers will be eligible to vote in the Uber election.

From Partners

Want to know what the US presidential candidates think about workforce automation? Sign this petition to have a question about that included in the debates.

Geeking Out

The first-ever self-driving taxi service will launch in Singapore next year.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Do I wish that someone other than a Jackson Lewis lawyer had written this piece? I do. Still, interesting look at why the NLRB determined that a group of musicians were employees, not independent contractors, for the purpose of organizing.

Here’s a great explainer, from Mathbabe, on why pooling retirement savings (a la Social Security) is a better bet for everyone, than making people create individual accounts.

“The hustle is either romanticized or criminalized, and therefore it is rarely understood or appreciated for what it actually is.” I don’t think I’ve read anything that connected the gig economy of freelancing and the gig economy of selling loosies, better than this.

“Most don’t choose self-employment.” Almost 1 in 6 workers in the UK is self-employed at this point—in large part, due to “precarious work” contracts.

Here’s a legal question for those scholars among us—can an algorithm count as a manager, for determining whether an independent contractor’s work is “managed?”

“Instead of working five days, for 35 hours, let’s just work three days to make room for others to work.” The richest man in Mexico wants to introduce a three-day work week, to create more job opportunities for younger workers.

Inside a robot-run warehouse

Geeking Out

I know, you think you’ve already read enough think pieces about Pokemon Go. Just trust me, and go read this one about the potential implications when the Internet of Things meets augmented reality.

The BBC takes you inside a robot-run warehouse in China, which processes 20,000 packages per hour.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

As a Philly person, I can vouch for the fact that last weeks ’s DNC had a fair amount of sharing economy presence, including a “special” relationship with Uber, who had a tent all their own for ridesharing use. Airbnb also held a panel for delegates, to talk about how they’re good for the middle class. Oh, and here’s Susie Cagle’s take on what it was like to deal with Uber at the DNC.

In DC? Check out this panel on financial inclusion, at Brookings on Thursday, 8/4.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

The high court in Delhi just ruled that Uber and other ride-sharing apps can’t use surge pricing, if it raises their rates above the ones set by the government for taxis.

Oh, and Uber seems to have hired a CIA-linked firm to investigate unions in Seattle. Hmm. That’s probably not a story they wanted out in the world.

Will established automakers be the ones who push Uber out?

Some of my very favorite journalists are the snarky ones. What happens when journalistic chatbots take over? We’ll be in good hands, apparently.

Organizing Theory

Podcast “You Are Not So Smart” investigates the science behind deep canvassing. h/t to whatever reader sent this to me—sorry that my record of who that was has been obliterated by a flurry of DNC related email/texts/tweets.

Household expenses are not covered because expense policies (and IRS codes) are still biased toward men.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Why do employers reimburse us for the things they reimburse for (and not for others)? Sexism plays a part.

Uber is facing legal action for the first time in the UK, over the question of whether they are an employer or not. In the Philippines, ALL applications for new ride-sharing vehicles have just been suspended by the government. And will Brexit be a boon to the gig economy?

Cue the “but Seattle is a special snowflake filled with unicorns” tweeting from people who won’t want to take this new data seriously.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The Obama Administration is investing in helping veterans and low-income households increase their access to rooftop solar.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

The quantified self is all the rage—but so is the human behind the dataset.

Organizing Theory

Interesting look at the inner workings of Code for America. Some of the challenges of running a largely volunteer-led group of local organizations will be familiar to most of us.

I’m super-excited about this effort by white people to take on the burden of educating other whites not to be racist on social media.

From Partners

Friend-o-the-blog Stephen Lerner asks how unions can be involved with social movements that expand the scope and scale of what we’re organizing workers for.

Geeking Out

A 40-hour workweek isn’t optimal for high performance—especially if you’re over 40.

“If you’d like the priorities of movement organizations not to be dictated by the mega-rich, then lead generation is an important function (for the movement).”

Organizing Theory

“If you’d like the priorities of movement organizations not to be dictated by the mega-rich, then lead generation is an important function (for the movement).” Dave Karpf, on what Change.org’s switch to crowdfunding might mean for social justice groups.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Maybe regulating ride-sharing in your city will create opportunities for new kinds of ride-sharing companies to prosper, as it did in Austin.


Reputation, reputation, reputation

OSHA has finalized new rules that require employers to file workplace safety reports online, in order to make incident rates more transparent. Industry, shockingly, opposes this idea.

From Partners

We need to work harder to convince the Clinton campaign to adopt policies around digital work

Last week, the Aspen Institute released a resource guide for those who are promoting portable benefits for the fissured workforce.

Geeking Out

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Pokemon Go, and the good news that it seems to have gotten America’s kids off the couch during summer vacation. Here’s an interesting look at some of the challenges the apps present for non-urban or disabled people (and some thoughts about what that might mean for augmented reality apps in general).

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“My body is not public property, and it’s not someone else’s right to tell me how to live…” Meet the movement for fat acceptance in the workplace (and everywhere).

New research from Pew shows that most Mechanical Turkers are earning less than the minimum wage.

Adidas is building an automated factory to make shoes. What does the threat of robotic factories mean for workers in Asia and the global South?

Alex Rosenblat has been doing academic research on Uber, Lyft, and taxi drivers. Here, she shares some of her anecdotal findings.

“It’s not like you need a pimp anymore. You just need a computer.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“It’s not like you need a pimp anymore. You just need a computer.” Is sex work becoming more mainstream, thanks to the internet?

The Rideshare Guy’s Harry Campbell, on some things that Uber could do, besides raising wages, that would help retain drivers.

Researchers from the LSE have concluded that tech employment increasing has basically zero effect on lifting people out of deep poverty.

This is a good look at how the “attractions” of self-employment are forced on people who used to have more stable jobs.

Organizing Theory

Breather CEO talks about how he built his business—definitely some lessons that could carry over for organizers.

From Partners

Freelance writers interested in tech—Shareable is looking for you!

Geeking Out

I’m curious if any HTU readers have experience using Trokt for contract management? h/t to Matt Richards for pointing it out to me.

Tesla has announced an update to their Autopilot, which will allow the car to recognize stop signs and stoplights.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

This might be the most adorable way to share surplus resources ever.

Home-cooked food sharing app Josephine is trying to make its business legal, countering the scorched earth approach that has been adopted by the likes of Uber & Airbnb.

I had a great time at the CommonBound conference this weekend—hoping to be able to share video of at least one of my two panels next week. Great to see so many readers there (and meet some in person)!

Is a tax on tech companies in San Francisco’s future?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

San Francisco supervisors are considering a tax on tech companies, to help deal with the city’s affordable housing crisis.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Uber has adopted new in-app monitoring technology that Lyft considers not ready for prime time, to know when drivers are performing poorly.

Organizing Theory

Can we build algorithms that disrupt the politics of fear and resentment? (Well, I can’t–but someone should!)

The always-interesting Mobilization Lab at Greenpeace surveyed subscribers and organizational contacts to find out what’s going on with campaigning organizations. Read the report here.

From Partners

NELP’s new paper looks at the dangers of the on-demand economy, and posits that its workers should be covered by workers’ comp.

We’re hearing a lot about portable benefits these days—but what does that actually mean? This new paper from the Aspen Institute takes a look (authored by friends o the blog Shelby Clark, David Rolf & Corrie Waterson Bryant).

What’s Going on in the Workforce

The folks over at Campaign Zero have released their analysis of how police union contracts are used to erase the civil rights of citizens who have legitimate complaints about conduct.

The Aspen Institute recently interviewed employers about their practices and intents regarding current hiring of permanent employees versus freelancers. Shocking perhaps only one person who reads this newsletter, employers like permanent workers, but plan to keep using temps and other contingent workers anyway.

Will the C-Suite be more susceptible to automation than previously thought?

The next time you read an AP story about Minor League Baseball, it will have been written by a robot. And speaking of Minor League Baseball, the owners of said League are trying to exempt themselves from wage and hour laws.

Some gig economy companies are trying to create good jobs.

Original Content

Andy Stern, president emeritus of SEIU, on his new book about why it’s time to seriously consider enacting a Universal Basic Income.

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.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Hank Green, founder of Vlogbrothers (brother of John—you don’t know him? Clearly you’re not up on your YA fiction…) has started a new organization to advocate for people who make video content online, the Internet Creators Guild.

Is the country’s investment in Uber good for Saudi Arabian women?

Harvard wants to know how you manage stress in the workplace (and the demand to stay connected).

Interesting piece on the challenges (and some proposed remedies) for freelancers who work across borders in the EU.

Some gig economy companies are deliberately setting out to create good jobs.

Organizing Theory

Is the “pop-up” union a sign of the onset of gentrification?

From Partners

Gig economy workers usually aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance (unless they have another job). Should they get a jobseekers allowance?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Platform cooperativist Nathan Schneider has a plan to try to mainstream the co-op model—check it out here, and send him some feedback.