Uber and Lyft’s Gig Work Law Could Expand Beyond California

The companies are backing proposals in other states that would give workers the ability to form unions—but still consider them contractors, not employees.

In November, GIG companies including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart helped pass California’s Proposition 22, effectively writing their own labor law. Now the companies plan to bring similar legislation elsewhere.

Last month, the companies launched a group called the App-Based Work Alliance to support their agenda. Industry-supported bills in the works in New York state and Illinois would, like the California ballot measure, deny gig workers status as employees, and the workers’ compensation, paid family leave, sick pay, unemployment insurance, and minimum wage guarantees that come with it.

But the bills could give gig workers the right to form something resembling a union, allowing workers to bargain with multiple employers to create wage floors and standards. US workers in trucking, auto manufacturing, and grocery stores have participated in types of industry-wide bargaining, though the arrangement is more common in Europe.

The scheme has divided labor advocates. Some labor allies say that allowing gig workers to unionize would give them a much-needed seat at the table, in an industry where work and wages are dictated by algorithm and where access to the “bosses”—the companies that pay their wages—is hard to come by. Gaining the right to collectively bargain, these people say, is a vital first step in making the low-wage, high-turnover job more fair.

Others say that allowing gig companies to continue to treat their workers as independent contractors is a mistake. Legislation giving workers the right to a union without employment status would effectively be a government rubber stamp to gig companies’ business models, “in which the most low-income workers don’t have access to basic safety net benefits,” says Veena Dubal, a professor of labor law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. full story here at Wired


An even bigger battle for gig worker rights is on the horizon

“The first feeling I had was shock, disbelief and hurt,” Vanessa Bain, a worker-organizer with Gig Workers Collective, told TechCrunch. “It didn’t feel good to think that my fellow Californians voted to strip people like myself and my co-workers of our labor rights.. . . . We didn’t have time for more grieving because as soon as it passed, every company signaled they’re looking to expand this model to the national level, which means our organizing needs to adjust accordingly,” Bain said.”

But Prop 22 does not mark the end of the battle of the status of gig workers. Gig workers, lawyers and activists affiliated with Gig Workers Rising, Gig Workers Collective, the National Employment Law Project and the Partnership for Working Families are all gearing up to redouble their efforts in the New Year.

But the same goes for gig companies. Uber and Lyft are ready to take legislation similar to Prop 22 into other parts of the country and the world. So, really, the fight has just begun. In the year ahead, we will likely see lobbying efforts from both gig companies and gig worker organizations alike, as well as more lawsuits. full story here


Pandemic accelerating the move to a hybrid workplace

As employees swap the corporate office for the home office, business leaders are forced to re-examine the business model and strategic priorities.

The pandemic has amplified several trends already prevalent in the workplace: the growth of the dispersed workforce, the proliferation of digital engagement, and the rise of the subscription economy. Together, they are ushering in an era of a rapidly emerging work environment that promotes business agility and growth through a mix of on-site and remote employees, modern digital experiences, and on-demand access to software and solutions.

Flexible work environments will play a more central role moving forward. As one respondent put it, “remote workers are going to be the new norm for our company.” . . . Equally important to business leaders, employees are onboard with more remote work. According to PwC, almost three quarters (72%) of US employees now want to work remotely at least two days per week, with one third (32%) preferring to never go to the office. Similarly, Gallup reported in April 2020 that 60% of Americans would prefer to continue to work remotely once public health restrictions are lifted. full story here


When Will Californians Start Spending Again? – Virtual Event

Tuesday, October 13, 1:00PT

California isn’t just the world’s fifth largest economy—it’s also a global capital of consumer culture. And now its culture, and the everyday habits of its people, are being profoundly disrupted by the pandemic and its associated economic collapse. A sudden, sharp decline in consumer satisfaction has laid open the profound fragility of the California economy. How is COVID-19 changing the way Californians participate in the economy, particularly in the counties hit hardest by the pandemic? How can California bounce back from COVID? And what might Californians’ changing feelings about consumer culture portend for the rest of the country?

Cameron Shelton, director of the Lowe Institute of Political Economy at Claremont McKenna College and a lead investigator in the California Consumer Sentiment Indices, visits Zócalo to explore Californians’ rapidly changing feelings about consumerism.

Click here to register


Software Developer Drought: Where are you in Demand?

With an increasing need for software by non-tech companies, a developer drought is growing outside of Silicon Valley.

Turns out there’s a major need for software developers outside of the traditional geo-center of Silicon Valley. Despite COVID-19, states in the US heartland are actively hiring developers. Plus, professionals on the West Coast are reassessing work-life opportunities and exploring start-up prospects outside the Valley and other tech hotspots.

This isn’t a shift to remote workers. In July and August, 92% of software developer job ads on three leading employment sites were for work-on-premises jobs. Apparently, employers are slow to embrace remote working.

The data comes from Mendix, a Siemens business involved in low-code application development. The company recently launched the Mendix 2020 Software Developer Drought Index, an effort to track hiring shortages for developers on the US county and state levels. click here for full article . . .


LAEDC Economic Update for Los Angeles County, unemployment, industries and housing

In this LAEDC economic analysis webinar, Shannon Sedgwick, director of LAEDC’s Institute for Applied Economics offers perspective and analysis of the latest labor market and jobs data from California EDD, published 8-24-20. In addition LAEDC economist Tyler Laferriere discusses housing prices and the stock and bond market relative to the economic recession. LAEDC CEO Bill Allen introduces the speakers and provides an overview.


AFL-CIO to Host Labor Web Conferences Friday-Monday of Labor Day Week-End

Join AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka for a conversation with union members who are serving on the front lines as we battle COVID-19. From teaching our kids to caring for the sick to serving our communities, these workers will share their personal journeys and discuss why we need to pass the HEROES Act to protect and support those on the job.

LABOR LIVE: FRONT-LINE WORKERS AND COVID-19 – Friday Sept 4, 3pm PT

LABOR LIVE: THE ONGOING ECONOMIC FALLOUT OF COVID-19 – Sat. Sept 5 9am PT

LABOR LIVE: PROTECTING THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE AND VOTE BY MAIL Sunday Sept 6 3pm PT

LABOR DAY LIVE: A CONVERSATION WITH VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, Monday, Sept 7, 1:15p PT

Click Here to go to Labor Day Live


Prop 22 Lets Voters Weigh in on the Gig Economy of Uber & Lyft

Uber and Lyft drivers use their own vehicles and are paid by the ride, giving rise to the term “gig economy.”

Uber and Lyft contend that they give drivers opportunities to voluntarily supplement their incomes by working whenever it suits them. But, this business model has is unsettled unions and many in government, who contend that it deprives workers of rights and benefits of being on the payroll, such as contributions for Social Security and Medicare benefits and overtime pay. As independent contractors, gig workers also cannot be union members.

Two years ago, the state Supreme Court declared gig work illegal, and the Legislature followed up with measure, Assembly Bill 5, which put the decision into law. Uber and Lyft, responded with a ballot measure, #22 on Nov 3, 2020 ballot, that would exempt them from the Assembly Bill 5 legislation while offering gig workers some employee-lite benefits.

Voters will decide whether gig work is an appropriate new model or an illegal denial of worker rights and counter to state labor law, when they vote on Prop 22 in November.

The Pro Proposistion 22 coalition is comprised of companies employing gig workers, and the anti-Proposition 22 coalition is comprised of unions and many in government. Attorney General Becerra and some city attorneys have now also sued Uber and Lyft for continuing to classify their drivers as independent contractors despite the passage of AB 5.

Recently , San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled against the companies. Judge Schulman said the companies’ employment practices are depriving drivers “of the panoply of basic rights to which employees are entitled under California law.”

California’s Powerful, But Obscure, Answer to the Covid Jobs Crisis – Workforce Development Boards

Zocalo Public Square, by MICHAEL BERNICK | JULY 10, 2020

You May Never Have Heard of Your Local Workforce Development Boards, but They Know How to Move the State Forward

A “Now Hiring” sign at a CVS Pharmacy during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco. California’s unemployment rate nearly tripled in April because of the economic fallout from coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy of Jeff Chiu/Associated Press.

We can bring jobs back to California, and we can do it right now. The latest employment numbers should provide the sense of urgency. An additional 287,354 new unemployment insurance claims were filed just for the week ending June 20, bringing the total to more than 6.7 million claims filed in California since mid-March, and $33.5 billion in unemployment benefits paid. Our California economy is now surviving in good part on unemployment insurance payments.

To understand how to respond to the current predicament, Californians should turn to the front lines of employment: California’s network of 45 local workforce development boards. Though these boards are not well known, they represent the heart of the public workforce system in California. Overseen by locally appointed business and labor representatives, workforce development boards administer the bulk of the federal and state job training and placement funds in the state, totaling more than $1 billion. They interact daily with job seekers and local businesses. 

Fresno’s board is one of the larger bodies, with a budget of nearly $19 million, 31 direct staff, and more than 200 contractors involved in job training and placement. It serves an area population of just under 1 million, with unemployment and poverty rates that have been well above the state average for decades. Blake Konczal, the board’s executive director since 2002, started his career during the economic downturn in 1992, providing placement services to laid-off Southern California aerospace workers. He has experience with several other downturns since then and is active in current Central Valley recovery efforts.

In my recent conversations with Konczal and other board directors, they emphasize that there is no silver bullet for recovery. Rather, their experiences with the current and previous downturns point to a series of five strategies to bring back California jobs. click here for full story at Zocalo Public Square