“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. 

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

“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. 


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. 

“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.

“Capital can’t concentrate in areas where capital doesn’t exist.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
“Capital can’t concentrate in areas where capital doesn’t exist.” Yup. It’s going to take more than Black communities’ own resources to close the racial wealth divide in the US.
#BlackFridays just concluded with their ultimate day of action on Black Friday. Here’s a good look at how this movement came to be.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
You maybe remember I wrote a piece about how worker organization will need to develop tools & skills to manage online reputation, a few years ago. If you need more impetus to do that, check out this creepy story about AI-crawling of babysitters’ social media pages, and rating them as appropriate caregivers. (If you didn’t want your teenaged daughter to post selfies, why did you give her a phone?)
Organizing Theory
What can activists learn from corporations about how to successfully “franchise” events and campaigns?
OSF has just released a report assessing new technologies that have been developed to empower & inform migrants about their employment & other legal rights.
From Partners
Are you a tech worker? Are you planning on applying for a job with Amazon in Queens? If not, sign this petition.
Geeking Out
Is this kitchen haunted? or just automated?

It’s time to move your membership campaign out of the development department…

Organizing Theory
Long, but interesting read about how membership programs should move out of the development department, and live more fully in organizations.
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman has thoughts about how electoral tech producers are failing us in their design efforts, and what to do to fix it.
What’s Going on in the Workforce
The NLRA just took a whack at baggage handling workers who had voted to join the IAM, potentially threatening the unionization of airport workers around the country.
What turns someone from a very-skilled hobbyist into a professional? WaPo looks at a new study that says participation in online crafting forums can be a key indicator and confidence-builder.
Lyft has announced changes to their driver policies, including that the app will default to a five-star rating for a ride that is not rated by the rider.
Almost 70% of ride-share drivers went on strike in Mumbai this weekend, and then marched to deliver a message to the state legislative session on Monday.
A recent decision by Australia’s Fair Work Commission may put the independent contractor model of delivery apps at risk.
NELP and the NWLC are co-hosting a webinar about how advocates can fight forced arbitration clauses and other waivers at work. Tuesday, 12/4 at 3 eastern.
Geeking Out
What I didn’t know I needed for Christmas—the Sorry to Bother You study guide.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
CityLab takes a look at how corporate America—particularly big box stores—is fighting paying property taxes through “dark store theory,” which compares the value of stores that are open to ones that have shuttered, instead of other open stores.
Add Cook County, IL to the list of locations that have decided to invest in worker-owned cooperatives.

Can we get to a four-day workweek before 2100?

What’s Going on in the Workforce
Do we really have to wait till the end of the century to shorten the working week to four days? Please say no.
Fast food chains are hiring more senior citizens than young adults, and Bloomberg is cheering them on.
Amazon is moving to directly hire delivery drivers this holiday season, instead of contenting to subcontract that work (or use the postal service more).
Uber has been fined over $1 million in CA for failing to suspend drivers, after riders complained about them driving while intoxicated.
Walmart is joining the AI-focused retail trend, and will open a “retail lab” in an existing store in NY.
The Australian Ride Share Drivers Association says that more than 50% of drivers quit driving for apps within three months, because the pay isn’t worth it. (With a turnover rate like that, maybe the industry should invest in job improvements?)
Organizing Theory
The ED of Action Network, on how they partnered with OUR, Change to Win, and the AFL-CIO to build a technology tool informed by what organizers need.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Two legal professors examine the future of local regulation of the sharing economy.
After last week’s mobilization by thousands of Google workers, the company has made a few concessions around the way they will handle sexual harassment complaints, moving forward.

Go vote (but save this newsletter to read later)!

What’s Going on in the Workforce
The Freelancers Union just put out their annual report on the freelance workforce, in conjunction with Upwork.
Florida farmworkers are subject to greater health risks at work, thanks to climate change.
You probably saw that nearly 20,000 Google employees walked out last week, from offices all over the world. Here are the organizers, on what their demands are.
“You’re not an Amazon driver if you haven’t run a stop sign.” On the workers who AREN’T getting $15/hour, in Amazon’s new pay regime.
If, like me, you’re annoyed by stores playing Christmas music before December 1st, imagine what it’s like to work in one of those stores.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
“The fact that we’re able to put the technology in the hands of people with a low income–that is really a useful way of resisting this weaponization of income,” so says the founder of an app that is helping people apply for citizenship.
Investors are already lining up to buy housing stock in whatever city “wins” Amazon’s HQ2.
On the ballot in LA today? Whether or not the city should create a public bank.
Sarah Jaffe, on how the strikes of the past year are helping  build power for teachers’ unions around the country.