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Future of gig workers could hinge on California ballot vote



Gig companies have long argued that people who drive for Uber or deliver food for DoorDash aren’t employees but rather are self-employed — a vital legal distinction that allows many internet “platforms” to withhold benefits and take other steps to minimize their labor costs. Now, Californians will weigh in on that question by voting on a ballot measure dubbed Proposition 22.

Prop 22 aims to create a permanent “independent contractor” status for platform workers. Critics say the ballot measure allows app companies to underpay and exploit workers. The app companies maintain that without it, they may be forced to raise prices or cut back their services. Here are the issues at stake in the most expensive ballot measure in California’s history.

A giant loophole

An estimated 500,000 people in California work for gig companies, including DoorDash, Instacart, Lyft and Uber. These players classify their workers as independent contractors — essentially self-employed workers who choose when, where and how to work and who pay all their own taxes. Last year, however, California passed a law, AB5, that required gig workers and many other independent contractors to be treated as employees.

If passed, Proposition 22 would exempt major gig companies from this law. Gig workers who drive or do deliveries would be treated as independent contractors, but would receive a guaranteed minimum wage for the time they are active on a given platform. People who work at least 15 hours a week would also receive a stipend toward the purchase of health insurance.

Employee or contractor? Here’s the difference…


App workers would get paid 120% of the local minimum wage, plus 30 cents per mile driven. But the payment only applies for time that they are actively working on a given job, such as driving a passenger or fulfilling a shopping order. They wouldn’t be paid for time they spend logged into an app waiting for job requests to come in. Under AB5, by contrast, such waiting time qualifies as paid work, like a cashier waiting for customers to ring up a sale.

“If you’re a barista, you are paid whether or not there’s someone at the counter at the moment,” noted Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at the University of California at Berkeley. Jacobs analyzed Prop 22 and found its wage guarantee comes out to $5.64 for every hour that drivers are logged into their app. California’s minimum hourly wage is $12.

Who’s the boss?

Opponents of Prop 22 say gig workers are independent contractors in name only: After all, Uber and Lyft set the rules for driver conduct, and the apps’ algorithms determine how they are paid. Drivers do not have the rights of employees, such as paid sick leave, overtime and the ability to form a union.

“Right now we’re not independent contractors,” said Orlando Mims, an Uber driver of six years in San Francisco. “The only good thing we can do is we can log on and log off when we want to. Everything else is controlled by Uber: How many rides we get, if we get a ride or not.”

When Mims started working for Uber, it was initially so lucrative that he left his full-time truck driving job to focus on ridesharing. But the $2,000 to $2,500 a week he used to make has since dwindled as Uber cut driver rates along with bonuses and other incentives it once offered. 

The pandemic killed off that income completely. Mims said he contracted COVID-19 in the spring and took several months to recover. Since he resumed driving, customer demand has been nearly nonexistent. Last week Mims said he earned about $100.

“It’s been really slow,” he said. 

Mims’s experience is common among many longtime drivers. Between 2013 and 2018, the typical gig driver’s income plummeted 53%, a study from JPMorgan Chase found.

“Don’t screw this up”

Kristina Hope, who drove for Uber for four years before the pandemic, said she was also disappointed when bonuses were cut. Still, she said, “I signed up knowing that there were no benefits.” Hope has been self-employed her whole life — she owned an art consulting business for 30 years before moving to Uber — and said she prefers it.

“If you want another job where you get benefits, then get another job. Don’t screw this up for the rest of us,” she said.

Why do so many Americans have “side hustles”?…


Hope, who lives in Studio City, estimates she earned about $700 on week when she drove 30 hours. But she often worked much less, since she balanced Uber work with a job selling financial services for World Financial Group and traveled often. She doesn’t think she would have control of her schedule as a full-fledged employee.

“The nice thing is being able to drive whenever you want,” she said. “Some weeks I didn’t drive at all. That’s the beauty of it, saying, ‘I’m going to see my mom in Seattle for a week,’ and I didn’t have to ask anyone. That is huge.”

Flexible benefits  

Nothing in California law requires Uber or Lyft to change drivers’ schedule, as the state has pointed out. But because employees are so much more expensive to hire than contractors, defenders of Prop 22 say it’s logical that companies would want more out of drivers. 

“No company gives their employees the same flexibility drivers on Uber have,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote this month. If Uber had to hire its drivers, it would only have room for 280,000 workers instead of the 1.4 million who currently use the app.

For many gig workers, the debate around Prop 22 comes down to quality versus quantity. Those who use the apps infrequently or just to earn extra money tend to rate them much more highly than those for whom driving or delivering goods is a full-time job.

Karen Pyatt is half a year into her first stint as a gig worker. Pyatt signed up for Instacart this spring to deliver groceries for people homebound by the pandemic, and quickly grew to love it, she said. She now shops for others for 20 or 30 hours a week, earning about $300 to $400 that she puts aside for home projects and vacations.

New California labor law under fire


“It’s just extra — it’s not money we depend on,” she said. Pyatt retired from a law enforcement career 11 years ago, and her husband drives part-time for Uber and Lyft. The couple are in their 60s and value being able to prioritize caring for family while working only occasionally, Pyatt said.

“It’s major that we have this flexibility to work where and when we want to,” Pyatt said. “I don’t really want to be on a set schedule unless it’s a schedule I pick, especially after doing government work for 30 years.”

“Eating bullets”

But for Steve Gregg, an Uber and Lyft driver, the arrangement felt like a forced schedule with ever-diminishing returns. When he started in 2017, “It seemed like a decent business decision. I could put in a 40-hour week and make enough to get by, or put in another 10 or 15 hours, and I could do something with my life, take my kids somewhere.” 

But as Uber and Lyft cut their pay rates, Gregg found himself working longer and longer hours and depleting his savings. “At the end of the week, with 60 to 80 hours driving, I was struggling to pull $600, $700, after expenses,” Gregg recalled. 

The grueling hours, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, led him to quit this spring.

“One of the things I resented most about Lyft and Uber is they gamed so many drivers,” he said. “Sure, if you’re retired and you only need an extra $20 a week, that’s great. But 80% of the rides, they’re provided by 20% of the drivers, and those drivers are eating bullets.” 

An example for others

If Prop 22 passes, other companies are likely to try to make their employees into contractors to save money, experts predict.

“I think you’ll see platform-based companies in other service industries either try to fit themselves into the exception [to AB5], or, if Proposition 22 is successful, try to do the same thing,” said attorney Jason Morris, a partner at law firm Newmeyer Dillion who represents employers.

Platform companies have poured more than $200 million into backing Prop 22 with an all-out publicity push. (Opponents of the measure have given $16 million). Californians have seen TV commercials and received flyers in the mail urging them to vote in favor of Prop 22. 

Uber and Lyft have sent a barrage of texts and pop-up notifications via their apps, directing drivers and passengers to vote in favor. In some cases, drivers had to click “OK” or “Yes on Prop 22”  in order to access the app, according to reporter Sam Harnett

GOP installs unofficial ballot boxes in CA


Uber drivers sued the company this month, claiming the barrage of notifications amounted to coercion. Instacart told its workers to put pro-22 flyers in shoppers’ orders, according to Instacart shopper Vanessa Bain. DoorDash gave restaurants bags emblazoned with a pro-22 message.

Uber and Lyft previously threatened to leave California if they were forced to treat drivers as employees. The companies have also said they would raise prices on rides and possibly reduce service if Prop 22 fails.

Still, Californians remain deeply split on the issue. A UC Berkeley poll conducted two weeks ago shows 46% of voters supporting it, with 42% against and the rest undecided.

“It’s just a headache,” said Mims, the Uber driver. “We went through all the protests, we got the legislators to pass a law, we got the governor to sign off on it, and we’re still going through it.”

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How Many Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (OB:GIG) Shares Did Insiders Buy, In The Last Year?




It is not uncommon to see companies perform well in the years after insiders buy shares. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of examples of share prices declining precipitously after insiders have sold shares. So we’ll take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (OB:GIG).

Do Insider Transactions Matter?

It is perfectly legal for company insiders, including board members, to buy and sell stock in a company. However, rules govern insider transactions, and certain disclosures are required.

Insider transactions are not the most important thing when it comes to long-term investing. But equally, we would consider it foolish to ignore insider transactions altogether. As Peter Lynch said, ‘insiders might sell their shares for any number of reasons, but they buy them for only one: they think the price will rise’.

View our latest analysis for Gaming Innovation Group

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At Gaming Innovation Group

The Independent Director Henrik Ekdahl made the biggest insider purchase in the last 12 months. That single transaction was for kr1.0m worth of shares at a price of kr5.19 each. Although we like to see insider buying, we note that this large purchase was at significantly below the recent price of kr11.90. While it does suggest insiders consider the stock undervalued at lower prices, this transaction doesn’t tell us much about what they think of current prices.

The chart below shows insider transactions (by companies and individuals) over the last year. By clicking on the graph below, you can see the precise details of each insider transaction!


OB:GIG Insider Trading Volume December 2nd 2020

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Insider Ownership

Looking at the total insider shareholdings in a company can help to inform your view of whether they are well aligned with common shareholders. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. Gaming Innovation Group insiders own about kr275m worth of shares. That equates to 26% of the company. We’ve certainly seen higher levels of insider ownership elsewhere, but these holdings are enough to suggest alignment between insiders and the other shareholders.

So What Do The Gaming Innovation Group Insider Transactions Indicate?

It doesn’t really mean much that no insider has traded Gaming Innovation Group shares in the last quarter. On a brighter note, the transactions over the last year are encouraging. Judging from their transactions, and high insider ownership, Gaming Innovation Group insiders feel good about the company’s future. So while it’s helpful to know what insiders are doing in terms of buying or selling, it’s also helpful to know the risks that a particular company is facing. While conducting our analysis, we found that Gaming Innovation Group has 1 warning sign and it would be unwise to ignore it.

Of course Gaming Innovation Group may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of high quality companies.

For the purposes of this article, insiders are those individuals who report their transactions to the relevant regulatory body. We currently account for open market transactions and private dispositions, but not derivative transactions.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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Biffa, Covanta & GIG in financial close on Protos EfW




Biffa is set to develop its second energy from waste (EfW) plant in the UK after achieving financial close on the Protos facility in Cheshire, it announced today (1 December). 

The facility is to be developed by Biffa, American waste management company Covanta and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG). The three companies teamed up in 2017 (see story). Covanta and GIG will each own 37.5% facility, with Biffa, the primary waste supplier to the plant, owning the remaining 25%.

An artist’s impression of the facility

Located near Ellesmere Port, the facility will have the capacity to treat 400,000 tonnes of non-recyclable household and industrial and commercial waste every year. It will be capable of generating 49 megawatts of “low carbon” electricity annually. 

Michael Topham, Biffa’s chief executive, said: “We are pleased to have reached this important milestone together with our partners and to be taking another step towards improving the UK’s waste infrastructure and creating a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy. 

“This project demonstrates our commitment to helping the UK to build the recycling and energy from waste infrastructure it needs to reduce its reliance on unnecessary export or landfill of valuable resources.” 


The plant is expected to cost between £345 million and £355 million. Biffa’s financial commitment to the project will amount to £35 million, which it says will be invested in the next three years from existing facilities.

“This project demonstrates our commitment to helping the UK to build the recycling and energy from waste infrastructure it needs”

Michael Topham, Biffa chief executive

Construction of the facility will be led by a joint venture between Greek industrial conglomerate Mytilineos S.A and German construction company Standardkessell Baumgarte GmbH. Biffa says it expects the facility to provide “significant” economic opportunities to the local and regional area during the three-year construction phase and upon its completion. 

Covanta will supply operations and maintenance services once the plant is up and running, while Biffa will provide fuel for the facility, with more than 60% of the feedstock to be sourced from Biffa’s own operations. 

EfW infrastructure 

Until recently, Biffa had never owned any EfW infrastructure. Now, the Protos facility is to be the company’s second plant in the UK. Biffa reached financial close on its 350,000-tonnes-per year capacity Newhurst EfW facility in Leicestershire in February, a project it is working on with the same joint venture partners (see story). A video showing the progress made on the construction of the plant can be seen below. 

Covanta is involved in four EfW projects in the UK: the Newhurst and Protos plants, the 240,000-tonnes-per-year capacity Earls Gate Energy Centre in Grangemouth, Scotland, and the 545,000 tonnes-per-year capacity Rookery Pit facility in Bedfordshire. The latter facility is being developed in partnership with Veolia and GIG. 

Covanta President and CEO Michael W. Ranger said: “Today’s announcement marks our fourth energy-from-waste project in the UK with GIG and our second with Biffa, all within the last two years, and demonstrates our sustained progress in executing on our strategic plans to grow in this important market.” 

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PRO Unlimited Announces Top Market Trends in the White-collar Gig Economy




SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — PRO Unlimited, a global innovator of contingent workforce management software and services, today announced the top jobs market trends in the skilled, white-collar contingent (i.e. non-employee, contractor, consultant) landscape in 2020 based on year-over-year company data. Utilizing the company’s largest client data sets across hundreds of enterprises and thousands of job titles, PRO examined how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted contingent labor hiring across industries, demand in job roles and hot growth markets nationwide.

“There’s a strategic shift happening where employers competing in a war for skilled specialty talent have accelerated their adoption of contingent labor – and it’s not only “gig” app and blue-collar jobs anymore. In fact, 40% of all white-collar workers fall into this category,” said Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of PRO Unlimited. “At the same time, business professionals are embracing this type of work. Not only does this new contingent economy offer increased flexibility and high-paying white-collar jobs, but employers benefit from a more diverse talent pool, greater innovation, better fiscal management and much more. By late-2021, we expect over half of skilled workers will be contingent and employers will need to successfully manage this expanding workforce as part of their overall human capital strategy.”

Utilizing PRO’s deep industry insights and historical client data, the company compared hiring patterns in the contingent industry that occurred as a result of the COVID pandemic to that of the 2008 Great Recession.

Highlights include:

COVID-19 pandemic impacts contingent hiring harder and faster than the 2008 Recession, but it rebounded much more rapidly:

  • While contingent hiring declined 56% in the first half of 2020 – a much larger and faster drop compared to the 2008 Recession – it quickly returned to pre-COVID levels by July and hiring was 9% higher year-over-year by September.
  • Contingent hiring and the economy overall is recovering faster now than it did from the 2008 Recession. Contingent hiring historically recovers quicker than the overall U.S. labor market coming out of recessions.

“The onset of the pandemic in early 2020 and the high amount of uncertainty from an economic perspective sent employers into crisis mode. Many of them announced hiring freezes and layoffs. As such, we saw a decline in contingent hires, but it quickly rebounded and increased higher than pre-pandemic levels. We expect contingent roles will replace many full-time, white-collar jobs going into next year,” added Akeroyd.

Demand increased for IT/technology, healthcare and professional services, while manufacturing and industrial positions have dropped significantly

  • The hottest industries for contingent hiring in 2020 were IT/technology, healthcare and professional services. Contingent labor hiring in healthcare was least impacted by COVID.
  • Jobs in IT/technology, healthcare and professional services have increased significantly in demand from 2019 to 2020, while industrial, manufacturing and administrative positions have declined. For example:
    • Hiring of IT analysts, who provide tech support within companies, is up 43%, as is the use of data engineers (31%), IT/tech project managers (23%), marketing managers (18%), clinical pharmacists (18%) and designers (9%).
    • Jobs on the decline include administrative assistants at 51%, assembly specialists at 69%, and manufacturing associates at 32%.

White-collar gig workers look for the highest monetary bidder in their job searches, while culture and company values are less of a priority

  • According to a client survey commissioned by PRO among contractors, 40% of respondents say monetary compensation is by far the most valued factor in their job search.
  • Less valued factors include the opportunity to convert to a full-time employee (19%), unique project opportunities or skill-building (14%), and company values/culture (8%).

U.S. cities like Nashville, Charlotte and Indianapolis are emerging as hot growth markets for jobs — in fact, hiring is stronger than it was pre-COVID

  • Salt Lake City, Denver, Austin and Hartford were all cities that were already “anointed” as metros that were poised for growth pre-pandemic. While these cities have not returned to pre-COVID hiring levels, their rate of hiring is remaining steady and showing signs of improvement. Employers are not abandoning hiring from these metros.
  • Nashville, Charlotte and Indianapolis have emerged as strong hiring alternatives as their hiring levels are even stronger now than they were pre-pandemic.
  • In the West, hiring has already returned to higher than pre-pandemic levels, but lower year-over-year.

For more information and to download the PRO Unlimited Labor Market Report, click here.

About PRO Unlimited

PRO Unlimited, through its purely vendor-neutral Managed Services Provider (MSP) and Vendor Management System (VMS) solutions, helps organizations around the world address the costs, risks and quality issues associated with managing a contingent workforce. A pioneer and innovator in the VMS and MSP space, PRO offers solutions for the procurement and management of contingent labor, 1099/co-employment risk management, and third-party payroll.

SOURCE PRO Unlimited

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