The City of Brotherly Love & Sisterly Affection just created the country’s first city-administered portable benefits fund.

Original Content

My friends at the PA Domestic Workers Association just won the first city-administered portable benefits fund in the US. Hear from director Nicole Kligerman about how it happened, and how it will roll out. 

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Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

New York city council staffers are launching a union organizing drive

New Jersey (one of the few “ABC test states” for determine whether workers are misclassified as independent contractors) just slammed Uber with a $650 million tax bill, for avoiding payroll taxes. 

United for Respect has succeeded in getting workers onto a “mirror board” for Toys R Us’s follow-up iteration. 

The ’sharing economy’ has gotten a bad rap, thanks to the profit-seeking behavior of various gig companies. But there is value in sharing, and these cities are partnering with sharing economy groups to reap the benefits. 

New Orleans has approved a study of dollar stores in the city limits, realizing that they are concentrating in low-income, food desert areas that could benefit from actual grocery stores. 

The Perils of Trumpism

The DoJ apparently thinks it’s okay for your local McDonald’s to have a “no-poach” agreement with your local Burger King. Because, special sauce, I guess? 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“…working for a good cause often means accepting lower pay than in the corporate sector—but some nonprofit jobs don’t even meet the most basic criteria of liveability, leaving some of their staff stressed and struggling.” An interesting look at how the non-profit sector factors into income inequality—with some recommendations about how non-profits (and their funders) can do better as employers. 

Organizing Theory

Blueprints for Change just launched their first manual of campaign how-tos. Find out how to get your hands on a copy here

Geeking Out

Here’s a pretty interesting data visualization of how salaries vary across 800 different US occupations. 

Messi may be the world’s best striker…

What’s Going on in the Workforce

The men of Major League Soccer are getting ready to strike

Remember when that self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona? Turns out the company didn’t program cars to recognize that pedestrians jaywalk.  Meanwhile, the Taxi Workers Alliance are suing Uber for wage theft in NYC.  And ousted Uber founder Travis Kalanick is back with a new venture—this time, he’s building ghost kitchens to maximize productivity in the food delivery space. 

Hollywood assistants are speaking out about low-wages and punishing conditions in the film and tv industry. 

An interesting look at how the gig economy is penetrating the grocery industry, and other retail stores. Hint: it’s not just about delivery. (h/t to reader Thomas Beckett for sending me this one.) 

From Partners

Next 100’s Phela Townsend takes a look at how worker organizations are using digital tools to build power. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Nearly a fifth of Americans hold jobs with nonstandard or variable hours.” What’s that doing to our social relationships

Food delivery workers in Japan and Norway have formed the first unions in that industry, in Uber Eats and Foodora, respectively.  Meanwhile, US Instacart workers are striking over changes to the app design that lowered their pay. 

This is more on the anti-solidarity side—but private prisons have created a new attack group, acknowledging the damage that has been done to their business model by migration rights and anti-incarceration activists. 

Shout out to my daughter, Alina, who sent this one my way—Microsoft’s test of a four-day workweek in Japan was a success—and will be repeated next summer. 

Organizing Theory

Who among us hasn’t groaned when being assigned to run the icebreaker section of a meeting? If you need a quick idea, here are 25

Check out this Call to Action worksheet put out by Mob Lab—to help you figure out how to describe the actions you’re asking supporters to take. 

And finally, here’s a beautiful interview by Civic Hall’s Micah Sifry, about how Color of Change embraced the concept of Black Joy, as a way to both move from online to offline organizing, and build long-term relationships with and between members.


Would you like a side of spying with your steak?

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Would you like a side of spying with your steak? If so, head on over to the Outback Steakhouse in Portland, OR which has started using in-restaurant cameras to surveil their staff

“Please smile more” is probably advice men will start getting too, if this effort to use AI to hire people gets off the ground. 

From Partners

UC Berkeley’s Labor Center and the Partnership for Working Families just put out a new report about automation (or the lack of it) in warehouses. 

If someone were to ask me, “what is the most Nafisah Ula thing you can imagine?” I might come up with this new board game. Although I might make the mistake of adding U of M branding… 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

UPS is planning to incorporate drones into its health care delivery system, both working with CVS on delivering prescriptions to homes, and for transporting lab samples. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“A pay increase for low-wage workers doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. In fact, the evidence suggests that everyone can win.” Market Watch explains why raising the minimum wage hasn’t slowed restaurant employmentin New York City. 

Using “customer demand” as the evidence that a program your company created auto-defaults to is an interesting choice. Amazon is losing money, big-time, on one-day delivery. The company is having significant difficulty hiring and retaining drivers in Germany. 

“…workplace surveillance is becoming increasingly pervasive and worryingly sophisticated.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“…workplace surveillance is becoming increasingly pervasive and worryingly sophisticated.” Who doesn’t want their pizza created under the eye of a pizza-botic supervisor? 

“Target worked me hard from mid-July of 2018 to February 2019, right before my medical coverage was about to kick in,” Workers say Target cut their hours, after receiving kudos for raising their starting wage to $15/hour. Fair workweek for everyone!

From Partners

Unionbase has launched a new publication, designed to educate stewards and other workplace leaders. 

The Century Foundation has released a new report on how robots are affecting workers & their wages, and find that the Midwest is more affected than any other part of the country. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Amazon is taking over elections.  They’re also interested in defense contracts. Is there some kind of reason to keep these things separate? ?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Mayor Lightfoot is proposing a new tax on rideshare vehicles that operate in downtown Chicago, in part to fund an expansion of bus routes in the city’s neighborhoods. 

In the fight to get more people out of their cars (or other peoples’ cars) and onto buses, one Swedish city is now underwriting 2 week free passes for people who move there, to encourage public transit use. 

Adding to last week’s story about the impact of AB 5 on dancers, is this story, looking at how it will impact freelance journalists. (One wonders about the lack of critique of online outlets that are paying $1-25/piece?)  And Salon’s Nicole Karlis wonders if AB5 would drive Uber & Lyft out of business, if it were expanded nationally. 

66% of Amazon workers in Staten Island, NY experience physical pain as a result of their work, according to this new report from NYCOSH. 


The tenth annual digital labor conference is being held at the New School November 7-9. Who Owns the World? The State of Platform Cooperativism

California’s AB 5 affects more than just Uber drivers

What’s Going on in the Workforce

There’s been a lot of talk about the (positive) impact of AB5 on gig workers like rideshare drivers. But what’s the transition been like for dancers in “gentlemen’s” clubs

“What Uber Freight does is to miss out the middleman…” I think you mean “replace the middleman”

Banks think they’ll be able to replace 200,000 workers via automation, in the next ten years. 

Two pieces of international Uber news this week: 1) Uber is buying a grocery delivery business that is based in Mexico & Latin America;  and 2) Uber is launching a boat service in Lagos, which makes me also wonder if they’ll be testing self-sailing boats someday soon.  Meanwhile, in the US, they’re laying more people off

From Partners

New Oxfam report shows worker exploitation in Amazon’s Whole Foods’ supply chain. 

Organizing Theory

Will Amazon workers start talking about unionizing if enough pro-union book covers are put in front of them? One self-published author is hoping to spark conversation inside the fulfillment center, when workers “pick” his book. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The New York state legislature is gearing up for the next battle around gig worker rights and protections, with an eye toward California’s AB 5. 

Instacart workers are planning a three-day strike in early November. Get your turkey elsewhere. 

“Attitudes around pay transparency are a sign of a seriously broken culture. How we’re compensated shapes everything about our day-to-day lives: where we can live, what we can do, how much freedom we have. It’s entirely in our interest to be more informed about where we stand when it comes to our pay, and yet we keep that information secret because we’re afraid we’ll be penalized for sharing it. In an industry that’s supposed to value transparency so deeply, we’re falling short where it matters most.” On searching for salary transparency in Silicon Valley (and tech, generally).  

“…when we work together we can accomplish things that don’t always seem possible. It’s been a really big win…”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…when we work together we can accomplish things that don’t always seem possible. It’s been a really big win…” Amazon warehouse workers just stood together to make sure one woman got rehired after an unfair dismissal. She was fired for exceeding her paid time off by one hour, while a family member was dying. Similarly, Amazon warehouse workers in Eagan, MN walked out last week to protest the company’s insistence on part-time scheduling. 

“The more corporations shovel into executives’ pockets, the less they have for workers’ wages and other investments.” Yup, seems right

Sure, you’ve probably heard about the fact that tech companies Palantir and Amazon provide services to ICE. But here, Fast Company profiles a bunch of smaller tech firms that are also collaborators. 

Organizing Theory

An interesting piece about how the things you measure become the things your organization prioritizes, as seen through the lens of Wells Fargo’s many, many problems. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

If we can’t figure out how to regulate facial recognition technology, Amazon has some ideas for us. Fox, meet henhouse. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

No matter where you are, there’s probably an Amazon fulfillment center coming to your region in the near future. They prize efficiency over all else, including government subsidies (despite what their local lobbyists say). 

The Fight for 15 suffered a loss last week, when the Ninth Circuit upheld a federal judge’s decision that McDonald’s is not an employer of franchised fast food workers, and the joint-employer standard doesn’t apply. 

Congrats to my friends at UFCW 1776, who just signed their first contract to represent medical marijuana workers in PA. 


The Freelancers’ Union is on the hunt for a new Executive Director

What’s your barista making?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Philly baristas are sharing wages on a public spreadsheet. It’s not a good look for the industry, overall. 

Last week, a group of Google subcontractors in Pittsburgh voted to join USW. An important note: that’s Pittsburgh with an “h.” 

Uber has opened a temporary staffing agency in Chicago. I’m sure that’ll end well. 

The Perils of Trumpism

Scalia’s son confirmed as Secretary of Labor. That’s the tweet. 

Organizing Theory

A great piece about the app launched by Rideshare Drivers United, and how they are using it to organize a disaggregated workforce. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

You know you’ve made it, when undergraduates (?)  are opining about your campaign in a campus newspaper. 

The EEOC has ruled that companies can’t use Facebook ad targeting to discriminate against women, people of color, and other protected folks in online job recruitment ads. 

Arizona relaxed safety requirements for drivers, in order to contract with Uber & Lyft to provide transportation for Medicaid patients. 

 Birmingham, AL just became the latest city to limit the amount of dollar stores they are allowing to open. 

When do I get my personal book bot?

Geeking Out

I can’t wait until the day I can install a Book Bot in my own house, to catalog my sizable library. 

The robot video you didn’t know you needed: serving sushi

The Perils of Trumpism

The NLRB just rescinded their opinion that graduate students are workers. Will this mean expansion of more state laws, giving student workers the right to organize? 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

In a strike wave, it’s good to know your rights. Kudos to Vox for publishing this “five things you need to know about going on strike that you were afraid to ask.”

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“…at this point, one would have to be pretty desperate to give a company with Facebook’s history any insight into their romantic life.” Dating and desperation do sometimes go hand in hand, though… 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Southern low-wage workers convened in North Carolina for a summit to talk about how to lift wages in specific workplace fights as well as in political arenas. 

Uber is suing NYC over the city’s cap on rideshare drivers’ ability to cruise without passengers. (The city created the cap both to improve the likelihood that drivers could earn a living wage, and to reduce pollution.)  New York drivers organized a 1,000-car protest of Uber’s move, last week. 

Seattle is gearing up to pass a new tax on ride-share companies, designed at supporting public transit development & funding a driver support center. 

Fort Collins, CO is setting up its own broadband network, to compete with Comcast within the city limits. They’ll charge $60/month for comparable fiber internet connections. 

Trans women of color are starting a worker-owned cooperative beauty salon in Queens. 

Concerned about food deserts? This new study suggests that worker- or non-profit-ownership and community input are more likely predictors of success than the involvement of for-profit grocery chains. 

Who wore it best?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

As you likely saw, last week California gave a huge boost to gig workers, by passing an “ABC test” for contractors, in the form of AB 5. I had some thoughts about the Trumpian nature of the TNC companies responses… 

Facing South makes the case that the South could flip the senate, next year. All the more reason to promote more worker organizing there. 

The OECD is working to figure out how to incorporate algorithms into legislation that creates rules around transportation and transit. One idea? Program self-driving cars to obey the speed limits set in geo-fenced areas

The FTC is investigating Amazon’s behavior towards third-party sellers as an anti-trust violation. 

From Partners

Congrats to our friends at the Freelancers’ Union, who last week passed a bill to extend civil rights and anti-harassment protections to freelancers in New York City. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

The passage last week of California’s AB5 wasn’t just a victory for ride-share drivers. Here’s a look at what other kinds of independent contractors will be covered (and some that are still exempted). (And a big shout out to our friends at Gig Workers’ Rising for helping to make this happen!) 

Yoga instructors in New York City are seeking to form a union

I mean, sure Jeff Bezos is the richest man on earth, and could probably single-handedly end hunger in the United States…but instead, he’s cutting off health care for all of Whole Foods’ part-timers. 

Organizing Theory

Delivery ride-alongs and bike repair clinics—this Canadian union has developed some unique strategies for organizing food delivery workers. 

Planned Parenthood developed an anonymous chatbot, to help answer teens’ questions about sex, gender, puberty & more. 

Geeking Out

Google’s AI voice assistant is apparently good enough at conversation to fool a receptionist at a hair salon. But my mom? Hmm. 


Looking to pick a fight about state-level preemption in Pennsylvania? Check out this posting from our friends at the Partnership for Working Families. 

What do Major League Baseball & Uber have in common?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

For once, a story about an Uber/Lyft driver, where Uber/Lyft don’t come off as the bad guy. Instead, it’s Major League baseball, which apparently pays players in the minor leagues so poorly that at least one was driving rideshare as a side hustle. 

Chinese ride-share company Didi Chuxing says it will launch self-driving cars in Shanghai. 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Gig economy site offers spying on your spouse for just $5! 

Geeking Out

h/t to Scott Mintzer for pointing this story out—about a MIT student who has programmed a computer to “read” his thoughts. No, really. 

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Is it predictable that newspapers would try to protect the ability to pay journalists as freelancers? Yes. Is it predictable that they would do so by sneaking that into an opinion piece about how newspaper delivery persons should be independent contractors? Well, I didn’t see it coming… 

“I can pay the rent and the energy bill and the cellphone. That’s it. There’s no way to make sure the kids have everything they need, or even to dress halfway decent. Sometimes I braid hair to make extra money.” In the wake of the Popeyes’ sandwich craze, Alexia Fernandez Campbell talks to one manager about her struggles to live on $10/hour

Here’s an interesting look at how a programmer describes wiping out four people’s jobs in the interest of “efficiency.” 

A surgeon has successfully performed heart surgery via robot, on a patient 20 miles away, for the first time. 

An incredible look into the many crashes (some fatal) that Amazon delivery drivers get into—and the lengths that the company goes to, to escape culpability. 

From Partners

This new paper looks at the impact of algorithmic management on Uber drivers & concludes that they hate it. (But it might be supporting their burgeoning baseball career, so hey.)


In DC? Check out “The Color of Surveillance” on Nov. 7 at Georgetown.