“…they also are eager to affirmatively crush collective worker action using antitrust.”

From Partners

“At the same time that antitrust enforcers meekly accept abuses of labor, they also are eager to affirmatively crush collective worker action using antitrust.” The Open Markets Institute takes a look at monopsony power in four recent court cases. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Grad students in Georgia are organizing to raise university workers’ raises

UNITE HERE and their allies have been fighting to make sure that hotel housekeepers are safe, through requiring employers to provide panic buttons. Now, the fight is on to make sure that panic button tech isn’t used to surveil workers

Uber has gotten a new permit to test self-driving cars in California, while more than 100 drivers in the state have filed wage theft complaints with the CA Labor Commissioner. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

It’s well-documented that Uber & Lyft could be doing more to keep racism off their platforms. Here’s a look at how racist fears of coronoavirus are affecting Asian-appearing drivers and passengers. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…by 1950, via the GI Bill, the American government spent more on education than the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe. But most American colleges and universities were closed to blacks, or open to only but a few in token numbers.” Please, tell me again how we can’t afford free college now that the US population has gotten both less white and more attuned to institutional racism.  Relatedly: what if we just collectively stopped paying our student loan debt? 

Dean Baker looks at historical trends in the US minimum wage, and finds that if it had kept place with productivity, it would be $24/hour today

Geeking Out

I don’t know what possessed anyone to figure out what the oldest, still-operating company in every country was—but it’s fascinating to look at. 

Robots at work and play

Let your gig workers pee in peace!

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Let your gig workers pee in restaurant restrooms, people. 

“Hundreds of (Mechanical Turk) respondents reported at least one instance of not getting paid for their labor.” Amazon fails to protect workers, in their warehouses and online.  Activists inside the company are also organizing about its impact on the climate

“It’s not that workers aren’t getting trained on how to work with robots safely. ‘The problem is it becomes very difficult to do so when the productivity standards are set so high…’” Kudos to friend-o’-the-blog Beth Gutelius for pointing out that safety trainings aren’t enough to keep workers safe, if they’re working side by side with robots and high productivity standards. 

In response to California’s AB5, Uber announced it will experiment with drivers’ setting their own rates, including allowing drivers to opt out of surge pricing. 

Shout out to these Instacart workers, who won the first-ever union election in the company, to form in union with UFCW. 

From Partners

Social Movement Tech has a new virtual 8-week training starting next month: “Union Organizing & Strikes! in the Digital Age.” 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Higher-income people have less contact with these kinds of government programs. But they can also buy their way out of many of life’s pesky tasks, handing them off to lawyers, accountants, apps or automated systems.” Could you survive as a poor person in America? The answer to this NYT quiz may surprise you

Why we don’t need a cooperative version of Uber and Lyft. 

h/t to friend Thomas Becket for sending me these two stories: “…What do you need to be a community? Losing food is like that dagger to the heart,” about a town that saved its only grocery store by turning into first a coop, then a non profit. And the second, about how grocery chain Meijer is shifting to a gig-economy-like model of staffing its stores. 

Organizing Theory

“How can we create a bill that will strike the right balance between making sure that workers who have been misclassified get the justice they need but not having a negative impact on freelancers who do independent work and are happy with the freedom they currently have?” Interesting profile of the new head of the Freelancers’ Union, on how he plans to thread the needle between protecting gig workers and true freelancers. 

Geeking Out

I cannot tell a lie. I am low-key obsessed by the progress that BostonDynamics is making in developing the machines that will herd our children and grandchildren into extractive camps. Also, winning the Olympics gymnastics floor exercise in 2032. 

Events

Looking forward to seeing a bunch of friends, old and new, at this conference, jointly organized by WPUSA & UC Berkeley Labor Center, in Sacramento next week: California Future of Workers Summit