“Democratic principles for anti-democratic times”

From Partners

“Democratic principles for anti-democratic times,” as brought to you by the fine folks at Political Research Associates.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

A new Miami on-demand car wash service claims it will save water, as well as adding convenience for users.

Uber is attempting to own the “last mile” of public transit (subsidized by local tax dollars), and five Florida cities just released what that is costing them.

If you’re a tech company, collaboration is a bad look. Well, if you’re any company really.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Great piece from the Freelancers’ Union blog on what freelancers of color have to think about, in advertising their businesses, that white freelancers probably don’t.

Organizing Theory

h/t to the creators of this website, which lets you call Trump properties to complain about the president (it’s only fair, since he’s shut down the White House comment line).

Geeking Out

Did you ever want to know what offices you might be eligible to run for? Check out this nifty website.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“Employee relations could be Uber’s Achilles’ heel.” Uber and Ola drivers in India went on strike last week, to protest long work hours and unsustainable pay. Since Uber drivers are apparently sleeping in their cars, in San Francisco, this is perhaps a global problem.

Bipartisan ways to revise the social contract?

Illinois worker advocates are promoting a bill to provide more regulation of temp agencies.

Are you in Boston today? Get yourself a Big Mac from an ATM. No, wait, don’t do that, Big Macs are gross.

Think twice before sending your kid to law school…TAR is coming for entry-level legal jobs.

Uber recently asked some drivers for pay stubs from other driving employment. Is that legal?

Mississippi auto workers seeking to form a union at Nissan held a series of actions this weekend. You’re forgiven for missing the news, since we were all in airports.


The Murphy Institute is holding an event to commemorate the birthday of W. E. B. DuBois called “From Economic Crisis to Economic Democracy—Lessons from Black Communities.” Info here.

“…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.

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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.