“…the real issue here is not what jobs people do, but how they can have the security they so desperately need.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Keeping it real about driving for Lyft.

“…the real issue here is not what jobs people do, but how they can have the security they so desperately need.” Frances Coppola, on why today’s jobs require us to invest in basic income.

Fascinating look at why your city (whatever city it is) doesn’t have the money to keep up with infrastructure needs.

Kate Aronoff, on how WeWork sorta resembles a company town of yore.

Organizing Theory

Black Lives Matter introduced an app last week that allows black Americans to mark themselves “unsafe” (a reverse of the FB “mark yourself safe” feature, during natural disasters or acts of terror).

Geeking Out
Can artificial intelligence help keep fishing sustainable?

What’s Going on in the Workforce

StorePower is a new online platform designed to let grocery stores compete with services like Instacart and DoorDash without ceding control of their ordering and inventory systems.

This robot lawyer might be able to get you out of a parking ticket.

The US Federation of Worker Coops is doing their first-ever census of worker coops in 2017.

McKinsey has a new report predicting that automation could raise global productivity by ~1%.


The Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy will be holding their biennial event in early June, in New York.

New Tech for Contract Bargainers

Original Content

As we move into the Trump era, unions are going to need to be able to do more with less. Trokt is here to help reduce the number of hours you need to spend on bargaining contracts and tracking grievances.

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.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Can expansion of worker-owned coops increase the supply of elder care for Americans?

Will increasing automation have a disproportionate impact on women workers?

From Partners

Hats off to ROC, the Fight for 15, and NELP (and many others) for coordinating a series of activities opposing the nomination of fast food CEO Andy Puzder as Labor Secretary.

Check out this Resistance Manual for the Trump Era.

Organizing Theory

Is your organization imagining a major internal reorganization in the current political climate? If you want help figuring that out, Future Shift is giving away 2 workshops to organizations that need it.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Using What’s App for sensitive organizing conversations? You might wanna switch to Signal.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Instacart is cutting pay for their contractors in at least four cities.

Uber is rolling out the ability for drivers to take cash to pay for rides—but you’ll only get your change back through Paypal or other electronic means. Wonder if this will increase tipping? In other Uber news, they’re looking to local governments in the UK to subsidize “last-mile” use of Uber that could replace public transit.

New Tech for Bargainers

We’ve talked a lot about the need for new tech for organizers–but what about the tech needs of union stewards and reps who are handling grievances and bargaining contracts? Don’t they deserve some love too?

The developer of Trokt is aiming to help with that. Seems especially timely, in the wake of several unions announcing budget reductions for staff–can we, too, use technology to automate processes that used to require humans? (Freeing up the humans to do more of the kinds of organizing that we’ll all be called on to do in this present moment.)

I chatted with Chris Draper, the Director of Product for Trokt last month. Originally developed to save money that the State of Iowa was spending on paperwork tracking, Trokt has morphed into two basic products–a grievance tracker, which union stewards can use on their phones; and a contract changelog, that bargainers on both sides of the table can use to make sure they are tracking all the changes made at the table.

For stewards, or individual union members, Trokt provides a mobile app (available for iOS, Android, or as a web-based app) that can be used to file grievances, look up contract language, or check on the status of an already-filed grievance. Their analytics will track which articles of the contract were grieved over a specific period, making it easier to make decisions about what sections of the contract need review, when it comes time to open negotiations (goodbye, bargaining survey that is 10 pages long!).

For people doing bargaining, Trokt provides a way to share documents with those on the other side of the table, close out specific sections as you reach TA on them, and to track all changes as their made (so you can make sure that no one is changing the contract without reaching agreement first).

We’ve all got to get smarter about how we do our work and allocate resources in the coming years. I suspect that Trokt will help unions do more with less.

“There’s no economic law that says it (automation) will use that wealth well, and that is worth worrying about.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“There’s no economic law that says it (automation) will use that wealth well, and that is worth worrying about.” Here’s economist David Autor talking about why the introduction of ATMs lead to an increase in the hiring of bank tellers, over the past twenty years, and did not destroy teller jobs. (I am afraid that part of what it did was lead to the need for bank tellers to have sales quotas to sell us stuff we don’t really need, but he doesn’t seem to mention that.)

Jesse Jackson wants Uber to release diversity data on its workforce.

A Swiss agency has determined that at least one Uber driver deserves employee status, rather than being an independent contractor.

Is it really true that kids born in 2017 will never drive a car (b/c, self-driving)? This article disputes that on technical bases—I’m wondering if the expert has ever tried to pass legislation?

Geeking Out

Fascinating look at what working class millennials in rural America think about workforce policy, and what the new Congress should adopt.

I want to go to Seoul just to interact with this airport robot.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Get you a city that can do both.

Want to see what tags Facebook is appending to your photos? Use this.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

It’s not just the Finns that will be experimenting with basic income—the Dutch city of Utrecht will also be running a pilot with that concept this year.

People, your cities are getting smarter. Have you noticed?

How Uber is creating a private method of public transit.

Happy New Year! Will everything be terrible for workers in 2017? It’s too early to say, but

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Freelancing can be a perfect solution to the challenges of being a working parent—but only if you have reliable child care when you really need it. Enter the coworking/child care mashup.

This week marks the start of the Finnish experiment on basic income, where 2000 unemployed Finns will receive $580 per month (even if they end up getting a new job) for 2 years.

Another look at the proposal by some gig economy companies to provide portable benefits contributions in exchange for safe harbor from misclassification lawsuits in New York.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“Data is more powerful in the presence of other data.” So make sure you’re not telling secrets when Amazon’s Alexa is listening. And she’s always listening

Organizing Theory

The White House did a round up of the Obama Administration’s use of various types of media to communicate with the public, and it’s quite a look back.

Geeking Out

“Lines of code can have lifelike qualities, but we do not confuse them for living beings.” On gender and artificial intelligence bots.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

China’s “Uber for trucking” just got a $1B valuation. Will apps replace trucking dispatchers?

Drones and other automata will write the history of the early 21st century more than Trump and Brexit, according to the editors of Bloomberg.

MIT says that 3,000 self-driving cars could replace all 13,000 of NYC’s taxis.

I had the excitingest time not checking my work email over the holidays. Now the French will get to do that all the time they’re not working!

Robots are replacing insurance claim workers in Japan.

Just watch the robot gifs, and enjoy your egg nog, people.

This will be the last newsletter of the year. Wishing all my readers a Happy Holiday, a wonderful (if resisting!) New Year, and warm cookies.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Airbnb’s “social impact tourism” pairs travelers with local NGOs who need help (and more importantly, dollars).

Reputation, reputation, reputation

We might be backing our way into gender-biased AI.

Organizing Theory

Over 100 leaders in tech have signed a pledge to stand up for civil liberties, and to resist the use of their platforms for civil rights erosion by government agencies.

From Partners

The Century Foundation just put out some ideas on how to deal systematically with income volatility.

Theorizing the Web has released a call for papers for their April conference.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

You thought parental consent was just for teenaged girls’ private medical decisions? Nope, if this bill in Texas passes, unions will also need to secure parental consent before a 17 year old can join.

My only question about this otherwise-excellent piece on what life is like for restaurant cooks is: why is the writer committed to using statistics from the National Restaurant Association?

Google wants to take the idea of drone delivery, and replace it with dog delivery. Robot dog, that is. Can you say “fetch, Google Assistant?” (and can they come up with a catchier name for their AI?)

“What if I want to retire at some point before I die?”


What’s Going on in the Workforce

The NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission wants data, to make sure drivers aren’t driving unsafe amounts of hours. Unsurprisingly, Uber doesn’t want to share data.

“What if I want to retire at some point before I die?” The ‘joys’ of freelancing, explained by veteran freelance journalist Jake Blumgart.

Uber has told the IDG that there won’t be more cuts to drivers’ rates (at least in NYC).

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Self-employment (including as an independent contractor) is costing the British government millions in lost tax revenue. Here’s a new report that looks at the conditions for agency workers in the UK.

Volkswagon is the most recent company to jump into the ride-sharing space.

It sometimes feels like every place outside the US is further along in pushing back against capitalism in the digital age. Here’s a good report from Mexico on efforts to unite the cooperatives working through online platforms.

In the interest of reducing consumer culture, Sweden is giving people tax breaks to fix their broken stuff.

Organizing Theory

To fight hate, we must document it.

From Partners

Want to make yourself cry over the election results all over again? Check out this report on the Department of Labor’s work during the Obama Administration.

I’m pleased to be one of the 100+ leaders who signed on to a new call for economic security through universal basic income last week.

Geeking Out

State of the country got you down? Watch this robotic pen for a while. Maybe the robots will do a better job running the earth.

Nearly 25% of Americans earned income on platforms last year


From Partners

Pew finds that nearly 25% of Americans earned some kind of income from the platform economy last year, in this new report.

Interested in writing about precarious work? Check out this call for papers.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

A new, black-owned ride-sharing app wants to serve the communities Uber & Lyft are leaving behind, in the US & Africa. And Sweden is looking to ban for-profit ride-sharing, but is pro-carpooling.

The CEO of Honor talks about why he founded a company to combine tech with home care, why they chose to make everyone a W-2 employee, and what they see in the future of human-centered business.

Geeking Out

We’re missing out on the opportunity to start regulating the Internet of Things, because the federal government can’t decide which agency should lead.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Yet another gig economy company changes its service fee/tipping policy, resulting in a cut in workers’ pay.

I mean, I guess if you’re eating at a restaurant that serves Pizza Hut instead of actual pizza, you won’t mind if you’re served by a robot instead of a human?

And while we’re on the subject of job-destroying automation, check out Amazon’s take on the cashier-less store.


Data scientists in Washington State want to talk about how to use their skills to help answer questions for social service & policy-based organizations.

All day, every day, #fightfor15


What’s Going on in the Workforce

I hope you enjoyed your turkey last week. You might have rethought it, if you’d seen this insider on the poultry industry before choosing the menu…

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network just launched an app for reporting wage theft.

Europe’s top court is about to decide whether Uber is a transportation company, or a digital company, for purposes of regulation.

“Shitty jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problems we now face.” Welp. My work here is done.

Organizing Theory

Seattle recently released the set of rules that will govern union elections in the ride-sharing industry. Shockingly, Uber & Lyft aren’t happy.

Ben Werdmuller has a different take on whether Twitter can & should be turned into a user-owned coop.

From Partners

The Brookings Institute is hosting a discussion (in person and online) about autonomous vehicles and transforming transportation. Details here.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Some gig economy companies are planning to introduce legislation to allow them to create benefits for their independent contractors in New York next year. And on that note—the Independent Driver’s Guild in NYC has won an agreement that deactivated drivers will have the right to appeal that decision to a panel of their peers.

What motivates gig economy workers?

Office life: business team during a meeting

Office life: business team during a meeting

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“Because the supply of gig labor is liquid and comprised largely of part-time workers, employers like Uber have more flexibility to adjust wages and working conditions —but it’s their most dedicated workers who are affected most.” Strong work on what motivates gig economy workers, by Alex Rosenblat.

The taxi industry in Los Angeles is paying for LAPD sting operations that target Uber & Lyft drivers.

Gig economy companies are having a tough time retaining workers, as they cut wages and the overall economy adds jobs. But some kinds of freelance work is still picking up, especially in expensive housing markets.

The Future of Music just published this fascinating survey data on the income of working musicians.

Geeking Out

Will the Hyperloop revolutionize shipping, as well as passenger transport?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Instacart workers threaten strike the week of Thanksgiving, over the app’s change in tipping policy.

An on-demand app for finding family caregivers just launched in the UK.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Digital security tips for protestors, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.