“…it soon became a beans on toast life.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“…I got a knee injury. I couldn’t work for three months, and there was no sick pay from Deliveroo. I got a bit of statutory sick pay and my grandparents gave me £50 a week, but it soon became a beans on toast life.” Deliveroo & Uber drivers in the UK talk about their struggles with unpredictable income. “…it’s tough to make a living as a full-time driver since you lose a lot of the flexibility and earnings that make the job so desirable.” Can you make a living wage, as more and more people become ride-share drivers? (I bet the taxi drivers already know the answer to this question.)

Odd-job app Handy charges so many fees to its “Pros” (aka workers) that sometimes they’re just working to pay off their debt to the company. Yikes.

Nithin Coca takes a look at the strikes happening in gig economy companies across the globe.

Do workers who are overly-surveilled respond to it by trying even harder to cheat the system?

Millions of American workers believe they are bound by non-compete contracts, even when they live in states that won’t enforce them. The result? Lower wage growth & less economic mobility.

Organizing Theory

“…distributed organizing requires a commitment to build a support structure and to try out some new approaches.” Blueprint for Change, on distributed organizing.

If you only read one thing in this newsletter this week, make it this: TWU president of the local that represents Greyhound drivers pens amazing op ed about how ICE should stop boarding buses without probably cause or a warrant.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Boston’s former CIO has some interesting thoughts about how to change the fees cities charge ridesharing services, to disincentivized traffic. Since a recent study found that nearly half of SF’s traffic woes were related to ride-hailing, this idea deserves serious consideration.

“…women show more interest in those who do not impact big politics or big business, but whose lives are invariably affected by both.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“While mainstream media often showcases the big players and global change makers, women show more interest in those who do not impact big politics or big business, but whose lives are invariably affected by both.” On an experiment to launch a site where experienced female journalists curate the news.

The TWU in Columbus, OH is gearing up to fight autonomous buses & a corresponding reduction in decent-paying jobs.

Uber just asked the SEC to let it offer equity to drivers.

Organizing Theory

SEIU homecare local launches debit card that members can have paychecks deposited directly into, in wake of Janus decision.

Matt Ewing explains how a dating app informed the design of Swing Left’s app that connects progressives with swing district campaigns.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“…there’s a very widespread dissatisfaction with Facebook. It’s been criticized almost constantly by everybody. And yet, somehow, people are still on it.” Jaron Lanier explains the network effect, and other facets of BUMMER businesses.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Douglas Rushkoff argues that, instead of UBI, we should be fighting for an ownership stake.

Got an Amazon Web Services account, and based in NY, SF or Tokyo? Amazon is setting out free coworking space for you.

Robot of the Week

My trainer evidently thinks that I’m capable of turning into a Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, because she tried to get me to do this exact thing last week.

What does Unite HERE’s new contract have to do with robots?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Robots are coming to the service industry in Las Vegas—and the Culinary Union has negotiated contract language to help their members prepare.

Amazon seems to be telling their delivery subcontractors that they can’t employ drivers on 1099s, but must pay hourly.

As of 2020, the World Health Organization will no longer require interns to subsidize their own internships, in order to do a better of job of attracting interns from the lowest-wealth countries.

Lawyers representing a limo company in Southern CA just asked a judge to declare all Uber drivers employees, on the basis of the Dynamax decision.

A new British study shows that AI could “give back” 12 days a year to workers by 2030, mostly through automating administrative tasks.

Organizing Theory

As you read this, ask yourself: “Why do Americans think it’s mostly the responsibility of individuals to prepare themselves for a future with less (or significantly different) work, more than any other institution?”

Blueprints for Change has a new organizing manual out, in draft form—“Using Facebook Groups for Organizing.”

Geeking Out

When they come to ask you, “are you a machine or a human?” apparently the best answer is scatological.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“If they were going to fight discrimination at work — wage theft, health risks, sexual harassment — they needed to think about violence against women in both their public and private lives.” How immigrant women in California started a network of safe houses for women experiencing domestic violence.

A partner from Price Waterhouse Cooper looks at the data, and concludes that the BLS undercounted gig workers & freelancers, in their recent survey.

How unions built cooperatively owned housing in New York City—and fought with the Trump family every step of the way.

“…this was a racist law and violation of workers’ rights and constitutional rights.”

Organizing Theory

“…this was a racist law and violation of workers’ rights and constitutional rights.” A great interview with a vice-president of FLOC, on how farmworkers in North Carolina keep organizing despite multiple challenges in an anti-union state.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Puerto Rico just made it easier for people to start energy coops.

Coworker is tracking which US companies are giving employees time off to vote, in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections.

Chelsea Rustrum explains how Airbnb’s desire to share equity with super hosts could show us the way to more platforms recognizing that they need to reward users in ways that traditional brick and mortar companies don’t.

Ford, Uber & Lyft announce a universal data standard for reporting the use of shared ride services, so they can share this data with public transit systems & city planners.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Facebook constantly harangues you to set up two-factor authentication. Then they use your phone number to target more ads, even if you don’t have it listed on your FB profile. Sigh…

From Partners

The Tech Workers Coalition is expanding, announcing new meet ups in Philly & Boston. Join their listserv to find out when they’re coming to your city (or to be the person who starts it there).

The Trump DOL just revised the joint-employer standard, and it is…not good. Read more about it from NELP, and submit a comment from your organization.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Is Uber setting itself up for the death by a thousand cuts? With a new ruling that drivers can’t join class actions but must pursue individual arbitrations, it’s possible.

“Until the barriers that stop women from having an equal stab at reaching the top are cleared away, #MeToo will struggle to succeed.” The Economist takes a look at what changes the #metoo movement has wrought in workplaces.

While traditional taxi drivers embrace new regulations in Madrid, Uber drivers strike to protest them.

Geeking Out

Tim Berners-Lee, on his plans to disrupt his own invention, the World Wide Web.

“More is not necessarily better.” An exceptionally excellent look at the lessons that can be learned from the civic tech graveyard, by Micah Sifry.


Our friends at Spendrise are expanding, and they’re looking to hire two new part-time, temp positions—a Senior Campaign Strategist and a Content Strategist.

“Workers should know who their customers are and the purpose of their work.”

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“Workers should know who their customers are and the purpose of their work.” Fascinating new ILO study of how (among other things) reputation functions for crowdworkers. Check out their recommendations for how to improve platforms like Crowdflower or Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

With millions of Americans owing on student loans, we could build a powerful movement—but only if people can get over the shame associated with being a debtor.

The UK’s Labour Party wants to give workers (in firms larger than 250 employees) shares in and voting rights over what their companies do.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Watch out, Wawa! Jeff Bezos is coming for you, with a plan to open as many as 3,000 cashier less stores over the next 3 years.

I’m fairly certain that this is the first time in 5+ years that we’ve had an article from the Sun. But hey, if they’re the only game in town covering an Uber Eats strike, here we are…

JP Morgan Chase re-upped their 2012 study of the gig economy’s impact on individual bank accounts—turns out that earnings on labor platforms (Uber, Lyft) are going down, but earnings on capital platforms (Airbnb, Homestay) are up.

Amazon may have backed off their use of temp agencies in the US somewhat, but they’re moving full steam ahead with that labor strategy in Australia.

Organizing Theory

MobLab profiles the work that abortion rights campaigners did in helping people have the difficult conversations that led to Ireland’s repeal of its abortion ban.


Speaking of MobLab, check out their next webinar on distributed organizing, Wed. 10/3.


The Participatory Budgeting Project is looking to hire a project coordinator in Oakland or Brooklyn.

Hospitals and ICE don’t mix

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“The first thing I thought of was, who needs a yellow star when we have modern day technology to replace that?” Health care workers, on what it’s like to deal with ICE in their workplaces.

“Uber prices its rides below cost for the purpose of injuring competitors,” according to a new lawsuit filed by an LA limo company.

North Carolina’s cooperatives are bringing a more democratic economy to the South.

Tired of that crappy Sodexho or Aramark-provided food in your college dining hall? Start a student food coop.

In what might be the smallest-scale basic income pilot yet, Springboard to Opportunities is launching a basic income experiment to serve 15 black mothers in Jackson, MS.

From Partners

Congrats to friend’o’the’blog Nathan Schneider, on his new book Everything for Everyone, about the cooperative movement in this moment. Find info on how to order it here.

This new report from the National Institute on Retirement Security shows that the median retirement account balance among all US workers is $0. Guess I’m not the only one who plans to work straight through my own funeral…

Organizing Theory

Here’s a fascinating post about the construction of a labor app called Wobbly, designed to start at the level of local worksites and move outward from there.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Good piece about how hard it is to be a driver in Amazon’s delivery program, with lots of driver interviews.

Uber drivers struck at the Chicago airport yesterday. Here’s a really good look at why Uber’s deactivation policy is pushing many to organize.

Bridging the gap between coders and cleaners

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“…if there was ever a time in labor history when the bridge between coders and cleaners could happen, perhaps this is it.” Great piece on tech worker organizing.

“What typically goes through my mind [when Uber driving] is I hope I get some passengers that are easy to deal with – that aren’t going to be too difficult or drunk or whatever. What’s kind of interesting or sad is I tell them I’m a teacher and I’m immediately treated with sympathy. I typically get better tips. So I’m like a charity case.” Incredible photo essay about teachers and their second jobs.

“…private equity deals that strip companies of their assets and leave the workers with nothing are just one particularly egregious part of a larger trend: that the value created by companies is being shared with fewer and fewer people.” In one of the grimmer, “let’s celebrate Labor Day by focusing on how work sucks” trends Fast Company ran a series last week, called “Why Work Has Failed Us”—this is from the first piece, which focuses on how gains are increasingly only to those at the top.

From Partners

Working Partnerships USA just released a new report on automation & the future of trucking. Read the report here, and get on their webinar on September 14th, to hear more about it.

Organizing Theory

The Digital Writers’ Union has an online explainer about how to start a union, including a timeline of the various web-based writers that have unionize in recent years.

And this is a great explanation, from NGP-VAN, of the structures, targeting and cycle of an electoral field program.

Here’s a recap of Mobilisation Lab’s late August conversation about cultural campaigning.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

New York worker-cooperative activists had a discussion with cooperative activists in Barcelona about how they built a greater solidarity economy by leveraging political power to get their government to take it seriously. Here’s what they learned.

Whole Foods workers are moving to organize a union, since their acquisition last year by Amazon.

Americans feel the need to protest more than at any other time in polling history. The most compelling issues are women’s rights, immigration & gun control.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Uber already kicks off drivers who have a rating of less than 4 stars. Now, they might start booting passengers with low ratings too.

Geeking Out

h/t to Ray Murphy, for sending me the announcement about this new production of The Cradle Will Rock in New York next spring. See the musical the WPA shut down, for being too radical.


In DC this week? Oxfam is hosting a briefing on their recent report that compared labor laws in all 50 states, on Thursday 9/13.

End prison slavery

Hope you enjoyed your parades, picnics & Labor Day BBQs–now, back to the grind!

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Teen Vogue, on the prison strike that’s been going on for several weeks.

Well, this is interesting…tech that seems to allow workers in global supply chains to “talk” to the brands that are commissioning their work through third parties.

Uber is fighting a Brazilian court ruling that they should consider a driver an employee, not a contractor.

From Partners

A great piece, by Coworker’s Jess Kutch, on what unions could be doing to build worker power in non-union worksites that is not limited to fighting for CBAs.

From a policy perspective, DC is the best place in America to be a low-wage worker. Check out this new scorecard from Oxfam America.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Cathy O’Neill, with an interesting post on why Facebook reputation scores could be a good thing—especially if they give users control over how to use them.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

6 chefs convene to talk about how to fix the restaurant industry’s sexual harassment problem.

It’s the day after a holiday weekend that marks the end of summer. You’d rather still be on vacation. Why not read this story about cruise ship entertainers, instead of working?

This Japanese startup will quit your job for you (well, at least if you work in Japan it will).

One worker’s story, about what it’s like to work a gig-like job in an Amazon warehouse.

If we’re all underwater, will we still want cheese?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

I want to make a joke linking this article about a floating dairy farm to Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, but then I’d have to remind you that we’re all inching closer to a landless planet. Ooops!

A really thoughtful article by Danny Spitzberg about the current and future state of the platform coop movement.

Airbnb is suing New York City, ostensibly to protect the privacy of hosts.

California could be the first US state to require that corporate boards include women. Shocker, the Chamber of Commerce is opposed!

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Australian Uber drivers held another one-day strike last week. “I have no control over the price, I don’t know where I am going and I don’t know how much I’ll get paid, so how can I be an independent contractor.” In other Uber news, the company settled a discrimination complaint filed by 56 employees for about $10 million.

Kroger just launched a self-driving grocery delivery service in Arizona. And in other grocery-automation news—more startups are looking to do checkout-free grocery—but do customers want it?

From Partners

Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement, is conducting a survey to find community organizations and others that are working for survivors of sexual assault.

The Freelancers Union is launching a hub for freelancers in NYC, which features free coworking and business advice for freelancers.

Organizing Theory

Check out this toolkit on how to improve your story collection, as an organizer. Bonus points if you use the water bottle trick.

Here’s a fascinating new effort by campaigners to aggregate how-tos about different kinds of organizing strategies and tactics, in one online place: Blueprint for Change.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Amazon’s army of Twitter bots are trying to convince us all that the company is good to its warehouse workers.

Geeking Out

A walk-through of a food truck outfitted with pizza-making robots.

Happy Labor Day, folks! May your parades be rain-free!

“Medical care’s never going to change some of these outcomes.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…if you’re a pediatrician and you look at the numbers, you have to do something to participate in the solution around eliminating poverty in these neighborhoods. Medical care’s never going to change some of these outcomes.” How one hospital is working to fight poverty, to make medical outcomes better for local kids.

So you want your city to invest in infrastructure, but instead they’re paying Wells Fargo ridiculous fees. LA is considering a public bank, so citizens can have more control over how their local taxes are used.

Baltimore is about to ban water privatization.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you—ICE & CBP are subjecting activists to extreme vetting—even when they are native-born US citizens.

Organizing Theory

After Caroline O’Donovan’s brobilizing article last week, here’s a good recent example—Lime & Bird take all their electric scooters offline in Santa Monica, to protest a city council decision.

From Partners

AAUW is doing a survey to collect info on workplace sexual harassment.

Geeking Out

I’m sorry I didn’t see the announcement of this Indegogo before it expired—but excited to someday see this Ken Roach-directed documentary, about engineers in Britain who figured out how to transition their company from arms manufacture to more socially-useful production.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

It’s the second half of August, and everyone is on vacation, or just playing Angry Birds on their phone (do people still play Angry Birds? I’m out of the phone game loop). So spend a few minutes reading this: the worst bosses, from a person who writes an advice column for people about workplace etiquette.

App work makes drivers more distracted, causing crashes & unsafe driving.

Uber announced it’s opening a center to focus on developing tech that can make it safer for drivers to accept cash for rides, in Brazil.

Fast Company takes a look at open hiring—profiling two companies that don’t let criminal records stop them from hiring qualified candidates.