Trump’s Labor Dept: increased enforcement against unions & worker centers

The Perils of Trumpism

Trump’s Labor Department is ramping up enforcement against unions & worker centers, reducing enforcement against employers.

From Partners

Congrats to our friends at Good Jobs First, who just updated their new searchable database for tracking corporate violators of dozens of types of regulations (not just labor, but environmental & consumer protection too). Researchers, start your engines!

UC Berkeley’s Labor Center just put out a new analysis of independent work in the state.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Want to clear a criminal record in California? Now, there’s an app for that.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Some public sector agencies are developing chatbots to provide basic information to residents or constituents. Does it deepen the digital divide?

If the future of work involves more fissuring, does the future social safety net involve more collaboration between fissured workers?

You probably already heard that Amazon announced last week that it’s buying Whole Foods. I wondered what that might mean for Instacart—here are a couple of takes. I have yet to see a tech site opine on what it might mean for UFCW—if you catch that, send it my way.

Organizing Theory

Political How is collecting videos from people who are doing basic civic engagement work (like making a phone call to a representative), so newbies can see how it’s done.

A good look, from the Electronic Freedom Foundation, about the differences between public, closed and secret Facebook groups.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

A New York State administrative law judge just found that Uber drivers are employees, for the purpose of collecting unemployment benefits.

Estonian ride-sharing startup Taxify wants to dominate Uber by launching in smaller European and African markets, paying drivers a bigger share of the ride fee, and allowing drivers to accept cash for rides.

I’m curious if anyone organizing low-wage workers has run into this new payroll app, and if so, how it works.

“Download a ride-sharing app” as sentence for a DUI

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Well, here’s an interesting solution to a long-standing civic problem—a judge in Ohio is making “download Uber or Lyft” a condition of sentences for those caught drunk driving.

The San Francisco city attorney has ordered Uber & Lyft to provide 4 years’ worth of data about their rides in the city.

“If we win the fight for more paid leisure time, then the creation of new public spaces – from theatre foyers to parks to gyms, cafes, beaches – needs to become a social technology, not just an afterthought of planning or architecture.” An interesting take on the promise by Jeremy Corbyn to add 4 bank holidays to the British work year…

Boston organizers who are working to build the solidarity economy have launched a democratically controlled investment fund.

“Residential assessments have been so far off the mark for so many years that the credibility of the entire property tax system is in doubt.” The Chicago Tribune just exposed an immense amount of institutionalized racism coming out of the tax assessor’s office.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

I’m pretty excited about this new feature in iOS 11—all apps will have to give the option of only sending location data while using the app (not all the time).

Should a private software company’s trade secrets be enough to keep inmates in jail?

Organizing Theory

25% of Americans boycotted a brand, in the first 3 months of the Trump administration.

From Partners

Congrats to folks in Illinois, who just passed an anti-wage theft bill. Now to see if the governor will sign it!

What’s Going on in the Workforce

If sectors in corporate America are pushing to make 3 weeks of vacation mandatory, can we start with fast food and retail?

Interesting look at the success of Stella & Dot in building a new network of women home sellers.

UK taxi drivers threaten to boycott Britain’s biggest grocery chain over a presumed partnership with Uber.

OUR Walmart launched an app! Hear more about it here.

Original Content

Last week, I talked to Organization United for Respect co-director Andrea Dehlendorf, about their recently launched app, and excellent work that threads together online & offline organizing. Check it out 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.

From Partners

Georgetown Law School’s Poverty Center just issued this new report, calling for workforce investment to improve the caregiving sector of the economy, which disproportionately employs women of color.

We haven’t yet seen a lawsuit brought under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act play out in court—here’s how one lawyer imagines it might go.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Ethiopia has been using private Facebook message histories in the trials of activists.

Organizing Theory

Interesting walk-through of the tactics that Trump’s team used on Facebook to suppress the Democratic vote in 2016.

Geeking Out

Quartz has launched a new section on the Future of Work.

Here’s an interesting use for telepresence bots—allowing sick kids to still participate in school.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

The Independent Drivers’ Guild is going after Lyft for apparent wage theft in New York.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

So much for local control…the ridesharing companies have convinced the Texas legislature to overturn Austin’s ban on companies that don’t use rigorous fingerprint checks.

Using mobile phone credits to pay for health insurance may solve some access issues in developing countries.

Is there an uptick in worker organizing? There is certainly an uptick in stories about it.

Organizing Theory

Micah Sifry takes a good look at the “Hunger Games” dynamic, in funding new groups that have sprung up as part of the resistance to Trump.

Nice writeup on the Independent Driver Guild’s work to move Uber towards in-app tipping.

h/t to Wyatt Closs for pointing out this story to me—professional videogamers have been conducting wildcat strikes & other forms of labor disruption—so the bosses want them to organize a union.


Reputation, reputation, reputation

A pretty good explanation of why replacing human judgement with an algorithm doesn’t just simply make things more fair.

Interesting project in the EU wants to use anonymized, user-provided data to help cities and private companies build products that make cities better.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Could the election of Donald Trump lead to the creation of the first industry-wide tech worker union in India?

Critics of UBI warn that it will lead to a society & entitled people who sit around playing video games all day (as if there’s something wrong with that plan!). Studies show otherwise.

Geeking Out

Walt Mossberg has been a sometimes controversial tech columnist—but this, his final column, is worth reading for an advance look at the tech products and challenges that are headed our way.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

New research from tax software maker Intuit shows that gig economy employment will double in the next four years.

Volvo is working on a self-driving trash truck.

The Perils of Trumpism

The Trump Administration wants to get rid of civil rights protection efforts in a variety of federal agencies.

“They sent a single artificial flower to her funeral.”


What’s Going on in the Workforce

“They sent a single artificial flower to her funeral.” Grab a box of tissues before you read this Bloomberg piece about Alabama’s auto parts industry.

“Amazon is externally exposing the tools it uses to set its own prices in order to guarantee that the price listed on Amazon is as low as possible for the customer.” This is a pretty fascinating read, from a retail startup founder, about the way that Amazon is setting itself up for market dominance by basically making a platform out of every possible part of the company.

h/t to my coworker Brad Rothrock, for finding this new site, which is designed to shame companies that aren’t paying their freelancers (as well as educate freelancers about who not to work for).

A Norwegian company says it will have a self-driving electric container ship in use by 2020.

The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute just issued a report outlining the threats from automation to retail workers’ jobs (which make up about 10% of the workforce).

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Did you realize the American Dream? If you did, how much of that was due to your own hard work, versus where you started in life? Take this quiz for a new perspective on it.

Organizing Theory

Count Love is tracking protests during the resistance to Trump…and they have an app that’s designed to let you check in to be counted.

From Partners

Great piece from Gender Avenger on how the Personal Democracy Forum became more diverse in their speaker slots. Rule #1—don’t accept all-male panels.


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Shitty jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problems we now face.” Check out what this Rutgers History professor has to say, about why full employment won’t solve our problems.

These documentary filmmakers want to film a basic income experiment for 2 years, and then release the movie in time for the 2020 elections.

Geeking Out

Fun data visualization that shows what time people in some of the biggest sectors of the economy are at work, at home, or somewhere else.

What about…Wilmington?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

When you think about automation in the workforce, you probably think about Rust Belt cities. What about…Wilmington? Bloomberg takes a look at where US industries are buying the most robots, and why.

Four worker-owned cleaning service coops have joined forces to launch a new app to allow customers to schedule cleaning, along the lines of Task Rabbit, while creating more equity (cleaners keep much more of the money).

In expanding to Myanmar, Uber has announced they will only work with official taxi drivers—and their unions.

A good look at the various pieces of legislation around portable benefits in different states.

Geeking Out

The 76ers have launched an innovation & vc hub. Cue jump shot jokes here.

Time looks at the amount of income you need to feel happy, in different parts of the country. Not surprisingly, the highest price tags are in the mid-Atlantic and on the West Coast.

From Partners

Really thoughtful piece from friend-o’-the-blog Annette Bernhardt, on ideas for how worker advocates can react to technology, beyond just fighting for basic income.

The AFL-CIO just released a tool-kit for defending immigrant workers.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

You know we’ve reached peak sharing economy, when its got its own New Yorker profile.

The Freelancers’ Union had a fantastic event in New York yesterday, to celebrate the first day of the Freelance Isn’t Free law, and to announce the launch of their new app, to help freelancers fight wage theft.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

What’s a tech company to do, when they discover hate groups using their service?

Events

In Chicago? Head to the New Economy Coalition’s event tomorrow night.

In NY or North Jersey? Check out the inaugural event of SkepTech next week.

The platform coop crew has announced the dates for this year’s conference.

What’s up with the automation apocalypse?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

A think tank in the UK has just released a report projecting that up to a third of British jobs could be automated in the next 20 years, and proposing reforms to government training programs, to support workers. And the raging debate about where automation is likely to hurt worst just heard from a new front—these folks say they’ve mapped which US cities have the most jobs in industries that are likely to be hard-hit. And Andy Stern asks, “why don’t our current elected officials do something” about the pending (and current) impact of automation on jobs.

h/t to Michael Grabell for this amazing piece on the American poultry industry (online at ProPublica, with a companion piece in this week’s New Yorker, where it is regrettably paywalled).

Organizing Theory

12 Stats on online fundraising & social media that your organization needs to grapple with.

Really good look at how a Kenyan doctors’ union used social media to win over public opinion during a strike.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti just built a budget that relies on tax revenue from AirBnb—which some locals think undercut their efforts to limit homestays in the city.

A hotel chain is partnering with Instacart & Peapod, to let its customers order grocery delivery to their rooms.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Should we be afraid of western governments starting to crack down on civil society organizations?

“Poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Lyft recently announced the opening of a new center for drivers, in Las Vegas (it says this is their sixth, anyone know where the first five are?). Ride-sharing organizers, start your engines!

Project Equity is working to transform businesses owned by retiring baby boomers into worker-owned coops.

“Poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.” Dutch historian claims that Universal Basic Income would only cost the US $175B (or a third of the national defense budget). Defend our people, support UBI?

The City of Portland is subpoenaing Uber’s “playbook,” that the company used to circumnavigate regulations when they were not allowed to operate legally.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

If you haven’t deleted your Uber account yet, it’s now going to be easier to see your rating as a passenger. Uber hopes this means you’ll be nicer to drivers when rating them—but why don’t they just stop kicking people off the app if their rating drops to 4?

I guess the lesson of this story is, if you’re planning to murder your wife, you might want to take her Fitbit off first.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Lots of us hailed Juno when it launched as a pro-driver ride-sharing platform. Sadly, they just sold out—and sold out their drivers at the same time.

Uber is offering paid sick leave! But only in the UK, where it’s apparently called “sickness cover.” And surprise, surprise—it will cost drivers money.

Instacart just announced a national expansion, including letting customers in some new markets get a year’s worth of access to Instacart Express for free.

You don’t need to bike to work if you never leave the house (or is that just me)

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

We might not be fully successful at promoting bike lanes, but I guess it’s also good for the planet if people stop commuting at all?

“Sharing” economy startup Appear (Here) wants to let you book pop-up space for YOUR start up business.

Vermont wants ride-sharing companies to add more insurance to cover personal injuries when drivers don’t have a rider in the car. Uber & Lyft, predictably, are opposing the bill.

Pre-paid cards and Wal-Mart are both generally terrible—but together, they’re trying to get low-income Americans to save.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Oh Uber, maybe focus less on the gimmicks, and more on making your company less of a dumpster fire?


Organizing Theory

Interesting first-person account of shareholder activism, by two professors who decided to step out of academia.

From Partners

Nerd alert! Descartes Labs is building a set of maps that will allow global forecasting.

Geeking Out

Steve Ballmer (yes, that Steve Ballmer) just launched a website designed to increase awareness of government spending.

It’s not every day that a person who admits, in the first paragraph of a story, to making $700K a year writes a piece that I find sympathetic. But this essay on how poverty is a disease—and the cure is not meritocracy—managed to pull it off.

Cage match: thumbs up vs. five stars?

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Should gig economy companies dump the five-star rating system for a thumbs-up/thumbs-down, like Netflix just did? Or maybe just stop terminating workers for being anything less than close to perfect?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Etsy’s a sharing economy company that seems particularly committed to sustainability. Check out their efforts to track—and reduce—waste in all their corporate offices, worldwide.

Cities in the UK are interested in learning how to better support worker cooperatives from the US’s Democracy Collaborative.

Will a bilingual financial app help close the wealth gap between whites and Latinos?

From Partners

Journalist friends: the New Economy Coalition is giving $1K grants to reporters that cover the new economy. See here for info.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

FedEx has started using robots, instead of people, to deliver things inside its repair facility.

Ontario may become one of the first governments in the world to seriously regulate temporary employment—including banning the practice of perma-temping.

Yet another of Uber’s business practices has been called into question. And it’s called “Hell” inside the company, so they probably had some inkling when they started the thing…

It’s sometimes hard to tell if the gig economy is driving a race to the bottom in online-only work, in part because it’s hard to know what to compare it to. If an American company hires you to transcribe something, and you’re sitting in the Phillipines, are you undercutting American workers? Filipino workers? Whose labor laws apply?

Organizing Theory

Indivisible has given millions of Americans insight into how to hold Congresspeople accountable. What if we had similar guides in how to influence the regulatory process of government departments?