Uber, Lyft stocks plunge after Biden official says drivers are employees

Uber and Lyft argue treating drivers as employees would wreck their business

Stock in Uber is down more than 6 percent after President Joe Biden’s new labor secretary, Marty Walsh, told Reuters that drivers are employees under US labor law. Stock in Lyft, whose business is more concentrated in the United States, is down 11 percent. DoorDash, which heavily uses contract workers for food deliveries, saw its stock fall by 8 percent.

The legal status of workers driving for these companies has become a controversial issue around the world. Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash argue that the contractor model allows them to not only operate more efficiently but also offer drivers increased flexibility. The companies argue that if they were forced to pay drivers by the hour, they’d have to not only raise fares but also restrict drivers’ hours to make sure drivers only work at times when there are enough customers to keep them busy.

But those arguments haven’t always persuaded policymakers. In 2019, California’s legislature passed legislation classifying gig workers as employees—though that law was overturned by a voter initiative last November. A New York federal judge ordered Uber to pay unemployment . . . . full story in Ars Technica


CAN RESTAURANTS BECOME DRIVERS OF OPPORTUNITY—NOT INEQUALITY?

To Prosper in a New Era, Eateries Will Have to Reckon With Issues Left to Simmer on the Back Burner

Thousands of restaurants have closed for good across America since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic last March. Many others remain temporarily shuttered; the remainder limp by with sales a fraction of what they were. Even with the arrival of a new administration and new vaccines, millions of restaurant workers continue to be out of work today, as the pandemic rounds its second year.

But the current disruption in the restaurant industry, for all the pain and economic loss it’s caused, provides an opening to disrupt the established models, and reckon with both the decline of hospitality and the reality of restaurant inequality. To recover and thrive in the years ahead, this essential American business will need to bring its time-honored cultural traditions into greater alignment with the social movements that define our times.

To start with, consider the slew of new options to purchase commercially prepared food that have flooded the marketplace in the last year. These options include delivery platforms, meal subscriptions, and online storefronts with offsite “ghost kitchens.” Takeout and delivery sales have skyrocketed, as have lines at the local drive-thru. Clearly, those who can afford to eat out occasionally are still buying and consuming food that they do not make themselves.

A shadowy army of workers has sprung up to staff these operations. Many are precariously employed, armed with some combination of a vehicle, a mobile app, a mask, and hand sanitizer. By connecting people to food through wordless hand-offs or drop-offs of plastic-wrapped edibles, these people are doing the human labor that Silicon Valley would rather automate than improve. It’s paying work, but we should be alarmed by this trend, which represents the decline of hospitality . . . . full article at Zocola Public Square


Get Ready for the Hospital of the Future

The digital transformation of healthcare has already begun, but there is still much work to do.

Attendees of the Virtual Engineering Week keynote, “Mayo Clinic 2030: Hospital of the Future,” got a glimpse of healthcare’s future. Mark Wehde, chair, Mayo Clinic Division of Engineering, explored the increasing digitalization of healthcare and how it could lead to more patient-centric care. Mayo Clinic’s 2030 Bold Forward plan is one such effort. “The plan recognizes that digital transformation is the key to our future, and digital platforms will be crucial to enable us to provide better care to more patients. We are well into the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution—this is the digital platform revolution. Healthcare is shifting from a traditional hospital-centric care model to a more virtual distributed care model that heavily leverages the latest technologies around artificial intelligence, deep learning, data analytics, genomics, home-based healthcare, robotics, and 3D printing of tissues and implants.” full article here


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


Feds say Facebook broke US law offering permanent jobs to H-1B workers

Under US immigration law, employers must give preference to US workers

Timothy B. Lee-  12/3/2020, for Ars Technica

The United States Department of Justice sued Facebook on Thursday arguing that the social media giant discriminated against US workers by giving preference to Facebook workers on H-1B visas who wanted to transition to permanent jobs at the company.

The H-1B visa program lets foreign workers work at a US company for three years. It can be renewed once. After that, an employer can ask for permission to offer the immigrant a permanent job under the Department of Labor’s PERM certification program. But the employer is supposed to first advertise the job to see if any Americans are available. Only if no qualified Americans apply can the job go to the immigrant.

In its lawsuit, the Justice Department argues that Facebook’s hiring practices made a mockery of these requirements. Most . . . . full story here


The Future of the Green Economy: A Path to Recovery? – Zoom FREE Virtual Conference – Dec 15, 2020, 11am

Through 2020, there’s been a hope for a “silver lining” and a “light at the end of the tunnel.” As we attempt to look beyond the pandemic, the question arises, “What is the path to recovery?” – Tuesday, December 15, 2020, 11:00am–12:15pm

Register Here

The green economy has been gaining traction over the last decade as municipalities and governments worldwide have re-evaluated how they “do business” in respect to the environment. From the Paris (Climate) Agreement to “Green New Deals” that have been adopted to policy platforms, the green economy is shaping the future of local, state, and global economies. Now, nearing a year into this pandemic, the green economy is being positioned as part of the solution to an economic recovery. However, the question still remains, “Is the green economy THE path to recovery?” We’ll take a look at how the move to a more sustainable and renewable economy and environment is impacting the opportunities of tomorrow. And, address concerns on whether it will be enough as we try to jumpstart economic development in our region. The LAEDC is focusing on timely research to provide updated regional insights that will inform the green economy’s decisionmakers about the state of the industry and where the opportunities are; and, how recovering from the current pandemic will affect future growth. During these unprecedented times, the future can be intimidating, but the green economy may serve as the “light at the end of the tunnel” as we look ahead.


The Factory of the Future

Digitization and automation will completely change the way we develop and produce products. But what exactly does that mean? And what is behind the terms commonly used to refer to the smart factory? Get maxon’s latest issue of driven to find out more

How will Industry 4.0, The Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence change the way we collaborate with our customers?

Which services will we be offering in the future?

Will there still be people working in factories?

Understand the technical terms used to describe smart factories, and learn why some technologies are longer in coming than initially hoped for.

Download the White Paper Here . . . .