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Will voters side with the continued exploitation of gig workers?

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For the past half century, employers have increasingly classified their workers as independent contractors. It is said that approximately 8 percent of American workers use independent work as their primary activity, a 22 percent increase since 2001.

More pronounced in trucking, product delivery work like Federal Express, it first emerged in transportation where it is more difficult to monitor worker behavior. But there are other obvious incentives: no social security; no minimum wage or overtime; no unemployment compensation; no sick pay; family leave or workers’ compensation; no reimbursement for travel expenses; registration; insurance; licensing and automobile depreciation; and no protection under anti-discrimination law. A growing precariat, disproportionately Black, brown and immigrants, competing with one another was particularly easy for the new on-demand economy to manipulate.

The gig economy, which initially meant jazz musicians moving from club to club, caught on with the Silicon Valley investing class, which claimed that they were simply connecting workers, as Uber, Lyft and Doordash did, with an app to customers. The companies saved around 30 cents on the dollar, adopting a scheme that immediately became imperiled by a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling, and later codified by the legislature last year. This created a presumption that drivers were employees because of the Supreme Court’s initial adoption of the ABC standard that characterized drivers and others as employees if they met one of the following criteria: one, they were under the employer’s control; two, they performed work which was part of the company’s central business; and three, were not independent tradespeople. 

The court and legislature took this step because they saw misclassification of workers as a substantial contributor to growing inequality, as well as a raid on the public treasury. One study estimated that Uber and Lyft would have paid $413 million into California’s unemployment insurance fund between 2014 and 2019 if their drivers had been employees. 

In the wake of these developments, companies like Uber and Lyft immediately howled in protest over the law, refused to obey it altogether, litigated extensively, arguing in bizarre fashion that they were not in the transportation business. Defiance produced a delay until the California attorney general, authorized to enforce the law by the new statute, brought suit in May and produced a strong trial court decision concluding that the companies must meet their “day of reckoning.”

The transportation network companies (TNCs), already successful in characterizing their drivers as independent contractors before the anti-worker Trump NLRB and Department of Labor, doubled down on an already-planned ballot proposition of the kind with which California is continually besieged, producing the most expensive ballot campaign (nearly $200 million and counting) in the state’s history and outgunning all opponents by 50:1 — though as of publishing, the electoral result is unclear. But clearly the proposition is one of the best bets for Uber and Lyft to win, given the likelihood of success in the California courts for the attorney general.

California’s Proposition 22 pitch is essentially threefold: one, the flexibility accorded drivers which makes it possible for them to devise their own schedule will be lost, as will many of their jobs, and consumer prices would increase; two, Proposition 22 would provide the drivers with some employee-like benefits; three, if the companies cannot have it their way, they will leave California for greener pastures. Although there are new suitors like Alto and others waiting in the wings, one cannot be entirely sure of the future industry prospects.

But the new legal framework doesn’t abolish flexibility — indeed, because demand inevitably fluctuates on any given day, the companies will always have to retain part-time as well as full-time drivers. Independent studies estimate that the new model will produce a 5 to 10 percent increase in prices at most, though Uber and Lyft maintain that the price increase could be tenfold! 

The benefits for the drivers are markedly inferior to those of employees — only about 50 percent of reimbursements allowed by the IRS and medical benefits, which are about 70 to 80 percent of California’s version of Obamacare for the most senior workers — nothing else will be provided. 

Finally, beyond Proposition 22, the companies have one other arrow in their quiver — the federal courts. Already successful before the court of appeals in Seattle, invalidating that city’s labor legislation for passenger ride-hauling drivers, there is always the United States Supreme Court. That tribunal, it is to be recalled, fashioned out of whole cloth the conclusion that union security or “fair-share” agreements are unconstitutional. This week Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettNotre Dame calendar lists talks by Amy Coney Barrett not disclosed in Senate paperwork: report Cheers erupt as Trump puts on MAGA hat, takes off tie at Iowa rally Key moments from Barrett’s marathon question-and-answer session MORE defended her dissenting opinion in support of the proposition that the right to bear arms is more fundamental than the right to vote. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, “the world is upside down today” and Uber and Lyft are banking on the idea that “anything goes.”

Meanwhile, on Nov. 3, the voters will have a fairly clear-cut choice — continued exploitation of workers without benefits and below the minimum wage (Yes), or some measure of dignity for those who have been left behind in the age of inequality. 

William B. Gould IV, Emeritus professor at Stanford Law School and former chairman of the National Relations Board. He is the author of, “Primer on American Law, (Sixth edition)”  and “Japan’s Reshaping of American Labor Law (1984).”



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GasBuddy Launches New Fuel Discount Program for On-Demand Delivery Companies to Provide Gig Drivers Discounts on Gasoline Nationwide as Prices at the Pump Rise

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Boston, MA, Jan. 25, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The national average for a gallon of gasoline is projected to rise in 2021 and could eventually hit $3 per gallon, the first time in more than seven years. Gas has long been one of the biggest household expenses for Americans. With the coronavirus lockdowns, consumers turned heavily to on-demand delivery services for their meals, groceries and household necessities. This caused an outsized shift in the need for gasoline to the tens-of-millions of gig drivers fulfilling these requests to make ends meet. 

GasBuddy, the travel and navigation app used by more North American drivers to save money on gas, today announced a new B2B program, Payments-as-a-Service, enabling companies to recruit, reward and retain their consumers and employees with discounted and free gas. 

Among the first partners to leverage GasBuddy’s program are Grubhub, a leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace; and Gridwise, a mobile platform that helps rideshare and delivery drivers maximize their earnings. 

“Gasoline is the biggest expense for drivers,” said Gridwise CEO Ryan Green. “Helping our drivers save on fuel costs has been a major initiative for us, and we wanted to find a program that could accommodate our nationwide audience. Pay with GasBuddy’s agnostic brand works with nearly all gas stations across the country and gives us the ability to offer fuel savings to every one of our drivers.”

HOW IT WORKS

  • The new program is powered by Pay with GasBuddy®, GasBuddy’s consumer payment card that gives users up to 25 cents off of every gallon as gas, and is accepted at 90 percent of US gas stations.
  • The program offers multi-tier fuel benefits. Delivery drivers enrolled in the program will receive standard Pay with GasBuddy saving benefits, plus an additional funded discount at the discretion of the partner company. 
  • The sign-up experience and the card itself, can be completely co-branded for partners. 

“There is a massive community that relies on their vehicles to make a living,” said Mark Coffey, executive vice president of strategic partnerships at GasBuddy. “Partnering with these on-demand delivery companies means we can further provide our invaluable service to people who need it most.” 

To learn more about GasBuddy’s new Payments-as-a-Service program contact partners@gasbuddy.com

About GasBuddy 

For budget-minded drivers, GasBuddy is the travel and navigation app that is used by more North American drivers to save money on gas than any other. Unlike fuel retailer apps, as well as newer apps focused on fuel savings, GasBuddy covers 150,000+ gas stations in North America, giving drivers 27 ways to save on fuel. That’s why GasBuddy has been downloaded nearly 90mm times – more than any other travel and navigation app focused on gas savings. GasBuddy’s publishing and software businesses enable the world’s leading fuel, convenience, QSR and CPG companies to shorten the distance between the North American fueling public and their brands. For more information, visit https://www.gasbuddy.com.

 

Allison Mac
GasBuddy
3105715828
press@gasbuddy.com

Source: GasBuddy



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Newsweek’s opinion editor has an anti-tech side gig

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Newsweek’s opinion page editor, Josh Hammer, consistently publishes op-eds slamming Big Tech and Google while remaining counsel at the Internet Accountability Project, a group partly funded by Oracle.

What’s happening: The op-eds rail against Google’s business model and size and the power and reach of big tech companies.

  • After being contacted by Axios, Newsweek added a disclosure about Hammer’s role with IAP on a recent political column where he wrote about the need for conservatives to fight back against Big Tech.

Why it matters: Opinion pages run a range of pieces by differing voices on all sorts of topics, and Newsweek is no different. But Hammer’s role volunteering as counsel for an outside anti-tech group, while running anti-tech op-eds, even with proper disclosure, is unusual for a news organization.

Between the lines: Google and Oracle have been bitterly sparring for years, and the Supreme Court is currently deciding the outcome of a major copyright case between the two tech giants that’s been percolating for a decade. IAP is one of many groups involved in the debate between anti- and pro- Big Tech camps.

Details: Hammer has made no secret of his dual roles — they’re noted on his Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

  • A Jan. 12 piece authored by Rachel Bovard, counsel at IAP, argues that Google and Apple spiking Parler from their app stores after the Capitol riot shows that Big Tech is a threat to free society and must be reined in.
  • Will Chamberlain, another IAP counsel, argues in a Jan. 19 piece (with a disclosure note about Oracle funding IAP) that Google’s defense against current antitrust suits is wrong and misleading.
  • A Jan. 22 piece by Hammer argues that conservatives must push back against Big Tech and “Silicon Valley oligarchs.” That piece received a disclosure about IAP after Axios reached out.

What they’re saying: IAP president Mike Davis told Axios: “We are very pleased that Josh Hammer is providing his volunteer legal services to the Internet Accountability Project, and we are very pleased that we’ve been so effective so quickly that Google’s trying to cancel one of our volunteers.”

“Newsweek has run op-eds from several writers associated with the Internet Accountability Project. We disclosed the connection between the writers and IAP and, in one case, when an IAP-authored piece referred to the legal dispute between Google and Oracle, the disclosure also included a note about Oracle’s role in funding IAP.

Josh Hammer’s voluntary work for IAP is not a secret and was announced in a press release clearly stating that he was also the opinion editor of Newsweek. Hammer has never written a piece about technology for Newsweek. If he does, we will make a specific disclosure about Hammer’s IAP role. As opinion editor, Hammer fulfills Newsweek’s editorial mission to publish a wide range of views on issues of public interest including technology. For example, several of the IAP op-eds were run as part of Newsweek’s debate format in which they were published alongside a piece with the opposite point of view.”

— Newsweek statement

The big picture: Newsweek has lost much of its former luster after struggling to adapt to the internet era. Oracle has a history of using creative tactics to accomplish its policy goals, and some think they go too far.

The other side: It’s not uncommon for tech companies to push their messages through third-party groups. Google does this as well, through third-party groups and think tanks.

  • Groups like the Connected Commerce Council — which count Google, Amazon, Square and Facebook as “partners” — plant pro-Google and anti-regulation op-eds in newspapers, the Washington Post previously reported (originally without disclosure, though they have changed that policy, Big Technology reports).

Our thought bubble: Compromised messengers are nothing new in Washington for any industry. What’s unique here is the editor of Newsweek’s opinion page has a conflict every time something publishes that’s anti-tech.

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daVinci Payments’ Study Shows Boom in the Gig Economy and How to Attract Gig Workers and Grow Their Loyalty

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CHICAGO–()–A new national gig economy study released by daVinci Payments found an explosion of growth in the gig economy in 2020, with an estimated increase of 23 million participants vs. 2019. The study identifies how to grow loyalty and engagement with gig workers who are identified as taking short-term work engagements for income.

Gig wages and participation grew 33% in 2020 to represent 93 million U.S. adults earning $1.6 trillion compared to the 70 million adults who earned $1.2 trillion in 2019. The growth of gig work is driven, in part, by the dynamic shifts in demand for gig services accelerated by COVID-19. daVinci’s study, conducted in November 2020, garnered responses that reflected workers’ motivations to participate in the growing gig market, including supplemental income, flexibility, and stability of work sources.

Gig workers value their employment, but they have requirements to keep their loyalty. Special savings offers delivered with their work pay, same-day payments and app-engagement experiences are highly sought after.

  • 72% would like relevant special savings offers delivered with their gig work pay.
  • 70% of respondents say they would be more loyal to a gig work program with same day pay, and 63% have actually received it.
  • 61% believe apps for scheduling and tracking hours are also important.

“Companies that use gig workers can save time and money while attracting top talent by giving them what they are looking for from their gig work,” said Rodney Mason, daVinci Payments’ Chief Marketing Officer. “Gig workers are demanding and want to receive thoughtful pay with relevant savings offers, same day pay with flexibility in virtual and mobile payment options and user-friendly apps to schedule and pay workers. Providing these services can grow loyalty to a gig employer or specific gig job. An additional benefit of providing these services is that they are available at a lower cost than traditional payment methods.”

A range of industries have shown reliance on gig work. The top five gig job categories out of the 18 recognized in the study and the percentage of gig workers that participate in each are as follows:

1) Retail 23%

2) Restaurant 22%

3) Cleaning 18%

4) (Tie) Customer Service 17%

5) (Tie) Delivery Driver or Rideshare 17%

daVinci’s Gig Economy study will be presented in a free webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 2, from 3 – 4 p.m. ET. To sign up for the webinar, please visit https://www.davincipayments.com/gig-webinar. Everyone who signs up will receive a copy of the study and a recording of the webinar.

Other findings identifying gig worker characteristics include:

  • 78% of gig workers planned to do the same or more gig work in the next year.
  • 63% of gig workers had a full-time job in addition to their gig job(s).
  • Gig workers are more highly educated than the general public, with 56% having some college experience or degree.
  • 40% prefer a mix of full-time and gig work, while 30% prefer only gig work.
  • More than half of gig workers are Gen Zers and Millennials (18–39-year-olds) and have an annual household income of $50K or less.

About daVinci Payments

daVinci Payments simplifies gig economy payments to save gig companies time and money and make gig workers more loyal with same day pay, virtual instant payments, relevant savings offers and brand engagement. To learn more about daVinci’s Gig Worker payments, go to https://www.davincipayments.com/industries/gig-freelance-and-service-providers/.

daVinci delivers corporate funded payments with greater value for all stakeholders. Blending art, science and a quarter-century of experience, daVinci delivers the most advanced payment solutions including virtual and physical prepaid, push pay and beyond with branded engagement for businesses, their contractors, customers, employees, participants and channel partners around the world. Learn more about daVinci’s payment solutions at www.davincipayments.com.

daVinci is owned by Syncapay, a holding company, “Investing in The New Frontier of Payments” which also owns North Lane Technologies and is backed by Bain Capital Ventures and Silversmith Capital Partners.

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