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Gov’t Rescue of Gig-Workers Could Drive Ride-Sharing Out of Business



The biggest problem with mainstream, left-wing journalists is they so desperately imagine a perfect world they’re often incapable of seeing reality. Given that the higher purpose of the news industry is to just report the news, this is a major situation indeed; one even unwelcome, if not detrimental.

A trenchant example of this came recently from The New York Times, which has abandoned even the appearance of reporting facts, with their editorial “Uber Rides Cost More? OK.” In it they argue that the solution to helping workers in the gig economy from being “exploited” is a heavy-handed piece of far-left California legislation, California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5).

The bill reclassifies independent contractors (“gig workers,” like rideshare drivers for example) as employees, thereby requiring for them all the benefits that usually go with full-time work. Casually peppering their article with authoritarian terms like “force” and “compel,” the The New York Times editorial board fatuously insist that, “The gig economy has become a part of our daily routines. But workers shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of a business model that works only when they are exploited.”

This all sounds great – until someone looks at reality.

AB5 was sold as a worker-protection bill, but would create a taxation and regulatory bonfire that would make gig work in California virtually impossible. The gig economy is a critical part of modern life, and setting it ablaze wouldn’t warm up those The New York Times perceive as having been left out in the cold — it would burn all of us alive.

Upwards of 600,000 Americans work as rideshare drivers, feeding an explosive demand for the service. In 2015, 15 percent of the U.S. was ridesharing but by 2018 it was 36 percent. This growth has expanded into delivery services, with UberEats, GrubHub and DoorDash nearly doubling their footprint during COVID-19.

And that’s just rideshare — more than 57 million Americans work in the freelance economy in one way or another, worth $1.4 trillion a year the U.S. GDP.

This has provided a great way for people from a variety of walks of life to earn more money. Between being accepted to business school and when the school year started, I drove for Uber and Lyft rather than deal with the hassle of a short-term, full-time job.

Police, whose livelihood is threatened by disturbing current social trends, can work as freelance security in their off-hours. Low-skilled immigrants can quickly start making money, like in New York City, where nine out of 10 rideshare drivers are immigrants and 54 percent must provide the bulk of their family incomes.

While it might sound nice that the California State Assembly and The New York Times editorial board want to rush to the aid of these poor, disadvantaged gig-workers, the truth is legislation like AB5 is far more likely to drive them out of business.

According to a study from the Berkley Research Group, reclassifying rideshare drivers as employees significantly threatens both the viability of the companies that employ them and the income-earning opportunities these drivers depend on. This would create a “downward spiral in demand for app-based transportation services” which would slash the number of gig-employed drivers by 80% to 90%

So AB5 would kill rideshare services; putting them out of business.

Then there will be no one to bring The New York Times staff their late-night sushi or drive them home safely at night a necessity. 

The AB5 legislation would also hurt freelance journalists, like Larry Buhl who wrote for Business Insider that it would force him to “leave California just to work in my field,” or Emma Gallegos who couldn’t qualify for a freelance-writing job because of onerous California requirements. Alisha Grauso told The Guardian that AB5 “keeps us from doing our job and takes money out of our pockets. No industry has been impacted as much as freelance writers because of the nature of our work.”

Given the volatility of the modern media world, perhaps this is the very reason The New York Times wants legislation like AB5 contaminating economies everywhere across the country. If a dinosaur like The New York Times can sabotage independent journalists with a bad law, it can maintain its stranglehold on America’s eyeballs — thusly allowing the Times to continue bloviating every day that everything is racist, no matter how badly their business model is working out in reality.

If states like California — or similarly hopelessly blue New Jersey, New York, and Illinois — are going to stomp on gig workers’ lifeline, the Federal government will need to intervene to proect them. Gig workers need a federal regulatory standard. If Republicans stand up for the needs of this large, diverse group, they can appeal to this constituency as champions of both the worker and the broader economy.

And if they help send The New York Times to the trash, so much the better.

Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. Read Jared Whitley’s Reports — More Here.

© 2020 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Amazon looks for gig workers to pick up and deliver orders at Whole Foods




Photo (c) Andrei Stanescu – Getty Images

With the gig economy continuing to grow but the COVID-19 pandemic cutting into wages, gig workers looking for work might want to pay Whole Foods a visit. Amazon is now recruiting contract workers to both shop for and deliver groceries for Whole Foods Market customers who order their groceries online.

According to a Bloomberg report, drivers can easily sign up for the Shop and Deliver program by simply reviewing an online tutorial about how Whole Foods products are picked, packed, and handled, as well as scoring a passing grade on a quiz.

Until now, Whole Foods relied on its own employees to assemble online orders, but the program model is akin to Amazon Flex, an initiative the company rolled out several years ago that relies on independent contractors to deliver packages. 

Inherent issues

From its catbird seat, various grocery industry watchers raised questions about Amazon’s move. 

“By entrusting gig workers to put orders together for Whole Foods customers, Amazon is potentially increasing the risk that items could be damaged, spoiled or delivered late that is inherent in grocery e-commerce,” GroceryDive’s Sam Silverstein wrote.

Another question raised was that while delivery service is an easy thing to learn, in-store tasks like picking aren’t.

“Delivery from A to B is a beautiful on-demand task because it’s very straightforward, very repeatable and you don’t need a lot of training, [but] tasks in stores are often much more complicated,” Jordan Berke, a former Walmart executive and e-commerce expert who runs Tomorrow Retail Consulting, told GroceryDive.

“A person that comes to your store once a day or once every two days to pick two orders is always learning, while a person that picks 50 orders five days a week” has a better opportunity to become familiar with the lay of the land inside a grocery store, and is more likely to know where items are located and how they should be handled.

Potential good news for consumers

Online grocery shopping is growing in leaps and bounds. The segment is expected to grow from about $38 million in 2018 to nearly $60 billion by 2023. Amazon and Walmart are in a pretty secure place for the moment — and keep upping the ante — but more and more companies are trying to elbow their way in like Uber and DoorDash. The upside for consumers is that companies are constantly trying to find ways to keep prices as low as possible. 

“They’re always going to look for ways to keep their cost of service as low as possible, and always look for ways to be super responsive in fulfilling customer demand,” Tom Furphy, former Amazon vice president of consumables and Amazon Fresh, told GroceryDive. 

“Those are three constants that will always exist as long as Amazon’s around, and they will absolutely look to deliver on that in the grocery environment.

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Iberdrola and GIG in 3.3GW offshore wind push in Japan




Iberdrola has acquired local developer Acacia Renewables and entered into a joint venture with Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) to develop its 3.3GW offshore wind portfolio.

Prior to the acquisition, Acacia was Macquarie Capital’s Japanese renewable energy platform, according to its website.

Acacia’s portfolio includes two projects with a combined capacity of 1.2GW at a more advanced stage, and a further four with a combined capacity of 2.1GW.

Spanish energy giant Iberdrola and the GIG aim to enter the first 1.2GW batch of wind farms – located off the south-west coast of Japan – in upcoming auctions announced by the Japanese government.

These first two projects could be commissioned by 2028, Iberdrola claimed.

The company said it has set its sights on Japan as a “new growth platform” in renewables, and offshore wind in particularly.

Iberdrola has stakes in operational offshore wind farms worldwide with a combined capacity of just over 1GW, while GIG has backed operational offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of just under 1.3GW, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly

The two companies will both take charge of developing Acacia’s projects.

Acacia had issued public notices of Environmental Impact Assessments for the six sites. These are wind farms called Satsuma, Nanao Shika, Fukui Konpira, Shiroishi Kosugo, Fukui Konpira and Tono.

There is currently just over 40MW of operational wind power capacity installed in Japanese waters, according to Windpower Intelligence.

However, a growing number of developers are targeting the nascent market ahead of offshore wind tenders, which are expected to be opened shortly.

Last week, Equinor, Jera and J-Power joined a long list of partnerships targeting the Japanese offshore wind market, despite the nation’s apparent slow uptake of the technology.

In 2019, the Japan Wind Power Association said that the lengthy process for environmental impact assessment was having an impact on the development of offshore wind.

One of the main obstacles for wind developers in Japan comes from opposition from local fishing communities.

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In Season Of Strikes For Gig Workers, Now Swiggy Delivery Execs In Noida Rebel




After strikes in Chennai and Hyderabad in the last 30 days, Swiggy’s delivery executives in Noida have gone on strike to protest against low wages

The delivery workers are demanding a minimum payout of INR 35 per order and restoration of monthly incentives, among other demands

Similar demands were also raised by Swiggy’s delivery partners in Hyderabad, who went on an indefinite strike last week

With similar demands as their counterparts in Chennai and Hyderabad, delivery executives with Indian foodtech unicorn Swiggy in Noida, on Thursday (September 17), went on a strike to protest against low wages. 

The strike comes just days after Swiggy’s delivery partners went on an indefinite strike in Hyderabad to protest against the low wages and to press their demands. 

In Noida, the protesting delivery workers are demanding a minimum payout per order of INR 35, a minimum payout of INR 20 per batched order (when the driver has to make more than one delivery in a single trip), and a payout at the rate of INR 10 per km after the worker has travelled more than 5 km for making a delivery, among other things.

The delivery partners in Noida, affiliated with the All India Gig Workers Union (AIGWU), have also demanded the reinstatement of monthly incentives of up to INR 3,000 for full-time work and INR 2,000 for part-time work. 

Further, the delivery partners are also demanding extra wages for deliveries made while it rains, or in nights, as also, compensation for waiting time at restaurants, while the order is being prepared. 

“Swiggy delivery workers are taking extraordinary risks by delivering food and essentials to people during this pandemic. The company cannot reward us by cutting our payouts and incentives. Our demands should be met at the earliest,” reads the letter stating the demands of AIGWU for Swiggy’s delivery workers, addressed to Swiggy’s CEO Sriharsha Majety. 

The demands of the delivery workers in Noida are similar to the demands of the workers in Hyderabad, who, earlier this week, launched an indefinite strike to protest against Swiggy paying low wages to the delivery workers. 

The workers in Hyderabad have alleged that during the lockdown, their minimum payout per order reduced from INR 35 to INR 15, while the company also removed monthly incentives to the tune of INR 5,000. 

When asked about the protest of delivery workers in Hyderabad earlier this week, a Swiggy spokesperson told Inc42, “Most delivery partners in Hyderabad make over INR 45 per order, with the highest performing partners making over INR 75 per order. This INR 15 is only one of the many components of the service fee.”

“Naturally, no active delivery partners in Hyderabad have made only INR 15 per order in the last four weeks. It is important to note that the service fee per order is based on multiple factors to adequately compensate our partners including distance travelled, waiting time, customer experience, shift completion and incentives. Regular competitive benchmarking shows that these are at par, if not higher than the industry standards,” Spokesperson added.

In what has been a season of strikes for gig workers, last month, Swiggy’s delivery executives in Chennai had gone on strike to press for their demands. A few days after the strike in Chennai, Swiggy told NDTV that the company had had a positive dialogue with the protesting delivery partners and was back to serving the entire city of Chennai with its fleet of workers.

Meanwhile, the Indian government’s new draft social security code is said to have recognised gig workers, and will mandate gig economy companies to contribute to a social security fund for gig and platform workers, reported Business Standard. Approved by the Union Cabinet last week, the code, which will have several other benefits outlined for gig workers, will come up in the Parliament’s ongoing monsoon session.

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