It’s not every week that Congress moves to protect workers…

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Last week was a big week for federal legislation to protect workers, with the Fight for 15’s victory in passing the House,  as well as the introduction of a federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights,  and a new bill to stop private equity from looting newly-acquired companies for at least two years .

From Partners

The Workers Lab put out their request for proposals for 2019. 

A good guide to infosec practices in organizing workers, put out by the folks at Whole Worker. 

Geeking Out

Robots are performing IVF on coral reefs, to save them from destruction. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

ICYMI, last week former Toys R Us execs announced that they are bringing the company back into brick-and-mortar retail sales. Sort of. Also, see that third story back in the SS & S section of today’s newsletter. 

If you were interested in, say, organizing warehouse workers, you could do worse than come to Pennsylvania. (Please, someone, do this!) Here, the mid-state’s biggest paper takes a look at 96 distribution centers in and around Harrisburg

Another day, another story about how gig economy companies are using tips in lieu of paying wages to fill out workers’ checks

“Public demonstrations often occur when employees have exhausted internal methods of raising concerns and hope to exert more pressure on the management.” Workers are walking out of work to protest employers’ practices, and Newsweek is on it. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

I can’t wait until I can wear face jewelry to protect my privacy at every demonstration I decide to go to. Cool cool cool. 

“…the 4 day workweek is a pragmatic response to a the problem of overwork that is leading to a crisis in mental health and wellbeing.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…the 4 day workweek is a pragmatic response to a the problem of overwork that is leading to a crisis in mental health and wellbeing.” Check out this piece, about the 4-day workweek campaign in the UK. 

Bay Area cities are starting to get serious about investing in worker-owned cooperative development. Here’s a piece about how worker-owned cleaning coops are trying to franchise their model

New York City needs to step up its game, in terms of earned sick leave enforcement, according to a new report by the city controller. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

You, like me, may not understand everything explained in this article about Zoom’s recently-revealed bug. But you should draw the same conclusion: cover up your laptop camera, whenever you’re not actively using it for a video call, even if you’re not really paranoid. 

Organizing Theory

An excellent overview of the kinds of things activists should be doing to keep safe from government surveillance, during protests. 

“…nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns.” A new study establishes that non-violence resistance is a most effective strategy. 

From Partners

Action Network’s Nicole Aro, on how progressives need to support organizing tech that counters the values proffered by venture capitalists. 

Geeking Out

An amazing explainer of wage theft was run last week in Teen Vogue. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Glad to see that Gig Workers Rising and Rideshare Drivers United were in Sacramento last week, lobbying for AB 5.  (And also noting with side-eye that Uber & Lyft paid drivers up to $100 to attend their anti-AB 5 lobby day.) 

Walmart associates are posting pro-union memes on Reddit. 

Final Thoughts

Sending light and love to all my friends and family at SEIU Local 32BJ, who lost their president, Hector Figueroa, last week. It only feels right to give him the last word, this week. 

“…human carers will become a premium, reserved for those who can pay for human empathy and touch.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“In an effort to robotize nursery homes, human carers will become a premium, reserved for those who can pay for human empathy and touch.” A look at the programming of care-bots. 

The California legislature has been debating the status of gig workers—particularly app-based ones—through AB 5. For a good explainer of the bill, and the discontent among driver organizers about some of the labor politics involved, read this Vox piece.  And CalMatters takes a look at what other kinds of workers might be covered as employees, if AB 5 passes. 

Amazon warehouse workers in Minneapolis are planning to strike next week, on Prime Day. 

Geeking Out

Why does the world need a bowling robot? Why not, I guess. 

Organizing Theory

“The more hosts you recruit, the more likely it is that each potential attendee will find an event near them.” Nathan Woodhull walks through how to set up a mobilization of hundreds (or thousands) of small events, through online organizing. 

A small investment by companies can make employees—and customers—more likely to vote

Reputation, reputation, reputation

The Times takes a look at algorithmic management

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Still trying to convince funders to support your census education and outreach? Check out this map of the hardest-to-count census tracts, which may help them understand exactly why your organization is prioritizing it. 

In case you missed it, Wayfair employees walked out in late June, to protest their company’s sales of furniture to ICE, to furnish detention centers. Damn, just when I was looking for a new vanity!

From Partners

The MIC Center, a new collaboration between Rutgers & Penn, just released a report from its two day conference in Philly about the Platform Economy & the Future of the City. 

And a new study by two Berkeley economists finds that raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour would likely not result in major job losses

Events

Are you coming to Netroots Nation? I’m moderating a panel about the work that Philly alt-labor activists have been doing to increase enforcement of local labor laws, in the city. Saturday, 2:15 pm, Rm. 116. Join us!

“…each year, hundreds of minor league baseball players spread across 256 teams earn far below minimum wage to chase their dreams.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“…each year, hundreds of minor league baseball players spread across 256 teams earn far below minimum wage to chase their dreams.” Minor league baseball players need a living wage too. 

Uber’s driver misclassification may be an anti-trust violation, when it comes to the taxi & limo industry. As the company is feeling under attack in CA,  it’s gone on a PR offensive , and is rolling out a new version of the driver-side app, with increased gamification to convince drivers to work more hours. 

Tesla is blocking Blind, the anonymous service where tech workers go to gripe about their working conditions, on its internal network and its email servers. It’s a problem, because Blind users are required to have a company email to verify they are legit employees. 

Organizing Theory

“…organizing online is not enough, but organizing digitally is clearly necessary.” A round-up of the latest thinking about platform organizing in the workers’ rights movement. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Humans only NEED about 8 hours of work per week to feel productive and mentally healthy. So stop pushing for a four-day workweek, and start pushing for a one-day week! 

New York state just passed new rights for farmworkers in the state. Apparently, this state senator is opposed to farmworkers having a day of rest every week. 

Events

Are you coming to Netroots Nation next month? Join me and some of my friends at this fundraiser for One Pennsylvania (I’m on the host committee, don’t make me look bad). 

Jobs

Want to help build a movement for Latinx justice in exurban PA? Make the Road seeks an Organizing Director

“It’s not an independent business. You can only use those Amazon trucks to do Amazon delivery.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“It’s not an independent business. You can only use those Amazon trucks to do Amazon delivery. Your only client is Amazon. It’s a way for Amazon to get this work done at an arm’s length with the contractor relationship.” Gizmodo takes a look at the problems inherent in Amazon’s delivery model. 

Welcome to the raspberry-picking robot future. 

Are Uber & Lyft drivers “colluding” to make prices surge? (maybe Uber & Lyft should stop cutting driver’s fares?) 

The Perils of Trumpism

Should we call this “Unhack the Union?” Thanks to friend-o-the-blog Eric Rosso for sending this one my way. The Koch’s have helped to fund an app that makes it easier to leave your union, post-Janus. Sigh… 

While California is looking to protect gig workers from misclassification, the US DoL is doing exactly the opposite.  Here’s why

Organizing Theory

Does your group do street outreach that requires organizers or volunteers to collect data on phones or tablets? Tired of having data access problems with google drive? Jot Form might be the solution for you. 

Uber & Lyft are trying to mobilize drivers against CA’s efforts to pass legislation that would apply the Dynamax decision as a piece of state law. Unlike previous times that the TNCs have done this, there are considerable counter-organizing efforts among drivers. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“The transition to a zero-carbon economy is necessary (oh boy, is it necessary), but demonstrating support to the workers displaced in the process is vital to making that transition a success.” How New Zealand is creating its own Green New Deal

Rolling Stone takes a look at the UFCW and the legal weed industry

Walmart is changing its internal documentation for vendors, to allow them to use “new tariffs” as a justification for price changes. Be nice if they open-sourced that data in some way, to show the impact over time & various industries. 

“Hope…is the best resilience to hate.”

Organizing Theory

“Hope…is the best resilience to hate.” Lessons from the campaign around Brexit. 

“We cannot white-paper our path to a just society.” Sorry wonks, you’re just one part of the solution, but community organizing has to be a part of it too. 

It sounds nice that companies like Netflix are saying they’ll pull out of Georgia if its abortion ban goes into effect. Here, researcher Phil Mattera explains why that isn’t as great a step forward as it might seem. 

Personal contact works better than email, if you want to turn people out to events. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

It’s not every day you see dads standing up for the right to parent while also being a working person. Congrats to these dads at JP Morgan Chase for winning a class action settlement that will force the company to treat dads as equal parents. 

Game Workers Unite and a French union have united to defend 100+ workers laid off by Activision Blizzard earlier this year. 

Salesforce uses the power of its customer management software to tell companies: you can’t sell automatic weapons with our tech

Reputation, reputation, reputation

It’s one thing to not be able to use your email, when Google has a server outage. It’s another thing to not be able to change the temperature in your house, or open your front door… 

Wanna come to the US from some other country? Now you’re going to have to give the State Department access to your social media. It won’t just be teenagers setting up Finstas, now… 

Geeking Out

Robotic window washers and their human (ex window-washer) operators. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“Humbling an employer of that scale could hearten employees at smaller operations to take their shot at empowerment.” Of all the coverage of last week’s Fight for $15 actions against McDonald’s, perhaps the most fun to read is the restaurant industry’s version. h/t to Brett Banditelli for sending this one. 

Uber announced last week that it will finally start banning passengers who have bad ratings (it’s only fair, if they’re kicking drivers off the app for it!). So take your trash with you (and please, tell my kids to do the same). 

Events

In Australia and want to learn more about online to offline organizing? Check this training out. 

When “automation” means someone in Central America earning $2/hour.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

When we talk about the perils of automation, sometimes people think it’s just about jobs being wiped out entirely. Here’s a good look at how automation erodes jobs—as Colombians get paid $2/hour to drive robot delivery vehicles around campus, instead of a delivery biker getting paid $15 or more. And as one happy customer points out in this piece, you neither have to rush to meet a robot, nor tip it. 

And remember—when you see Ford talking about “remote operators” for their new combination of self-driving car & robot delivery person—we’re talking about someone in another country making $16 a day. 

The Aspen Institute has released a set of policy recommendations about how to deal with the way automation is changing the economy. 

The Perils of Trumpism

The Trump Admin CMS just issued a rule preventing states from deducting union dues and contributions for health and retirement benefits from home care workers’ paychecks. 

Organizing Theory

How do unions navigate #metoo complaints that result in the firing of a member who harassed or assaulted another? 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Activist startup guy takes on Airbnb, works with cities to help them better understand Airbnb data & its impact on rental rates. 

A UBI pilot project in Stockton, CA is giving randomly-selected residents $500/month in no-strings-attached income. How are they spending it? 

Live in the Mid-Atlantic and worry about plastic pollution? Try this experiment in zero-waste living, and order your Häagen-Dazs in stainless steel containers (also good for other every day items). 

What brave new world will be automated next?

Geeking Out

Today in “jobs I didn’t expect to be automated”: traffic cones

Want a job that only requires 30 hours per week of work? Check out this newsletter… 

Organizing Theory

What are the best digital tools for organizing? Check out the latest document from Blueprints for Change. 

Interesting long read—in Fortune, of all places!—about the internal struggle going on between employees and management at Google, when it comes to “don’t be evil” (and related business practices). 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…how did we get to the point where one of our employees had to apologetically ask for financial support so she and her family could put a roof over their heads?” One CEO explains how he decided that he and his fellow execs should freeze their pay, so they could raise their starting pay to $15/hour for frontline workers. 

Honestly, who raised these people? Uber rolls out “please tell my driver to shut up” feature for Uber Black. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Cannabis delivery companies are “poaching” Uber & Lyft drivers by offering them better jobs with benefits


Use of construction robots is projected to grow tenfold by 2025, in this new industry report. 

Worried that your gig as a Lyft driver will be replaced by an autonomous car? Don’t worry, just become an autonomous car mechanic, says the company’s COO. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“…what it can do is pave an escape route from Facebook so worthy alternatives become viable options.” Why the Feds need to make friend list portability a thing, in regulating Facebook. 

Congrats to our friends and readers in San Francisco, which just became the first city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by city agencies. Don’t worry, your iPhone will still recognize you.

The Perils of Trumpism

Last week, the NLRB delivered a blow to rideshare drivers who were making assertions of employee misclassification, declaring that they should rightfully be considered independent contractors. 

So how’s that IPO working out for ya?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The City of Chicago just released ride-share data on rides, drivers and cars in the city (de-identified, to protect rider & driver privacy).  Fascinating stuff—with just a couple of clicks, you can see that the vast majority of fares are $10 or less, with over a quarter of all trips at $5 or less No wonder drivers were striking last week!  (Some studies have found that ride-share drivers only keep around 1/3 of the fare per ride.) If you haven’t had enough schadenfreude in your life lately, check out this article about the first two days of Uber as a publicly-traded company. 

Want to fix America’s retirement crisis? Step one: Pay workers more

“When Americans think about fixing gender equality, they tend to direct their ire on the workplace.” The Atlantic takes a look at what happens at home when heterosexual wives out-earn their husbands—and how sexism in a marriage reinforces sexism in the workplace. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Amazon’s Alexa Echo Dot Kids is recording your children—and it’s not clear how they’re using those recordings, or how long they are saving them for. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“America’s labor ladder has a new bottom rung…” Axios takes a not-so-deep look at the top-line issues of the gig economy. 

Steve Greenhouse takes the opportunity offered by Delta’s anti-union gaffes last week to run down the many ways that companies fight unionization (and the amounts they spend doing it). 

The Perils of Trumpism

Unions have reduced ULP filings since the Trump Administration took over the NLRB, citing fears of bad precedent-setting decisions. 

Ride-share drivers are striking May 8th!

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Ridesharing drivers in cities around the world plan to strike this week, in advance of Uber’s IPO. 

Tesla manufacturing workers: “we’d like a more predictable schedule.” Tesla: “how about the ability to borrow against your paycheck?” Tesla workers: “nobody asked for that.” 

The Perils of Trumpism

Shocking possibly no one, the Trump Secretary of Labor does not support raising the minimum wage. 

And while we’re (still) talking about the terrible nature of the Trump DoL (seriously, will we ever get to stop?)—last week, at the end of April they stated the obvious—they think platform workers are independent contractors, and won’t be doing anything about misclassification. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Ever wonder what Amazon knows about you? Check out all the kinds of information that the company is collecting about users. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Workers for some of the biggest companies in the US talk about their struggles with poverty wages. Is capitalism broken, or is it working as it was intended? 

“It’s the unspoken racism that’s most damaging.” What’s it like to be a Black chef in a fine dining restaurant