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No holiday cheer for gig workers hunting your last minute gifts

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As you mull ordering some last minute gifts or goodies, chew on this.

Amid the frenzied journeys to restock fridges or drop off stocking stuffers, drivers and shoppers in the United States for on-demand delivery apps like Shipt, DoorDash and Instacart must navigate a maze of pandemic-induced obstacles, any one of which can shrink their pay.

Long lines, product shortages and temperature checks are just a few in the age of Covid-19. Ruled by algorithms that gauge their performance, six gig workers interviewed by Bloomberg News said the slightest hitch can hijack their rating as they run around store aisles trying to find whatever it is you want.

“The chips are stacked against us,” said Willy Solis, 42, a Dallas-based shopper with Shipt. He complains that the metrics are “unforgiving” and based on “variables you can’t even control.” Solis, who is also an organizer with the grassroots group Gig Workers Collective, said he has worked with various delivery apps, including DoorDash, Instacart and UberEats.

The pandemic sent a flood of workers into the gig economy, an influx that’s only accelerated this holiday season, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at jobs site ZipRecruiter. Shipt went on a spree in October, hiring 100,000 new shoppers and another 50,000 at the end of November. Instacart and DoorDash have also ramped up, advertising heavily on internet job boards and offering incentive bonuses, she said.

But the increased number of gig workers has intensified competition for orders. According to a study by Flourish Ventures, a financial technology venture capital firm, 68% of gig workers surveyed reported a decline in income after pandemic lockdowns began in March. Across all apps, workers interviewed by Bloomberg said there just isn’t enough work to go around.

“Dashers are everywhere now,” said Nytalia Cooper-Kersting, 37, a part-time driver with DoorDash in Decatur, Illinois. Kersting has worked with the app for more than two years, but said she began driving consistently in March, dedicating about 25 hours a week to cover her car payments and avoid dipping into her savings. Since then, her town of about 70,000 people has been swamped with drivers.

“It takes 12 to 14 hours a day for a bunch of US$3 (RM12.19) and US$4 (RM16.25) orders to make fifty bucks,” she said.

Shane Robb, 45, is an Instacart shopper in Fort Meyers, Florida. He took up gig work when his shipping and mail services store was shuttered by the pandemic in March. Robb said his wages averaged roughly US$800 (RM3,250) a week in April, driven by steady demand from senior citizens who were locked down at home. But as the year progressed and more unemployed Americans started delivery work, his earnings dwindled. “I have a 4.96 rating out of 5 and the only orders I get are US$8 (RM32.50) or US$10 (RM40.63),” Robb said. “I’m making less than minimum wage.”

For Shipt, DoorDash and Instacart workers, ratings are based on a combination of how often they accept orders, customer satisfaction, completion and speed, according to the companies’ websites. On Shipt, those with the highest ratings get priority for delivery jobs, while in Instacart’s case, high ratings lead to the best paying orders. Solis said the problem with these systems is that unforeseen circumstances can result in shoppers being punished “for things that are out of their control.”

From the second Solis takes an order, the clock starts ticking. At the store, he weaves through aisles, dodging one potential setback after another: an item is out of stock, a customer isn’t confirming a substitute, or a store employee needs to check inventory.

“With the holiday shopping rush, you have a lot in your basket, lines are long and god forbid your credit card doesn’t work,” he said. “All that time adds up-and if you’re late, your rating takes a hit.”

Shopper ratings “are the clearest indicator of customer satisfaction,” Birmingham, Alabama-based Shipt said in a statement, adding that shoppers are “notified when there are opportunities for improvement.”

If a shopper’s rating drops below a certain threshold, however, they could be thrown off the app, also known as “deactivation”. Appealing or merely seeking an explanation for a poor rating or deactivation rarely yields the desired result, workers said.

“You can’t even defend yourself,” Solis said. “You get a generic email and are pushed right to the bottom of the totem pole for orders.”

A 44-year old woman who delivers for Shipt in Detroit said complaining is often fruitless because sometimes she gets passed from one representative to the next with no resolution (she requested anonymity because she fears losing her full-time job). Shipt said the company “offers multiple feedback channels and communities where shoppers are encouraged to speak to Shipt about their experience.”

Shipt, which was acquired by Minneapolis-based Target Corp in 2017 in a bid to compete with Amazon and Walmart, offers grocery delivery as well as items from retailers like Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and Petco. For Kassye Raulston, who delivers for Shipt around Fort Worth, Texas, a ding to her rating could jeopardise her ability to pay rent.

“With every delivery, you’re putting it all on the line,” said Raulston, who has two children and said she was recently homeless. “If I get a holiday order with 100 items that needs to be delivered an hour later, I’m racing through a crowded store hoping nothing goes wrong, because every second counts. I can’t afford to be at the bottom. I need to keep a roof over our heads.”

Even though Raulston has been a gig shopper for two years, she said her record of timeliness and positive reviews can be washed away in an instant with one bad review. Sometimes she’s given an explanation, while other times she contends she’s “blindsided” by a random drop of her rating. Earlier this month, she said her order acceptance rating fell from 90% to 82% despite not having declined a single order.

The pandemic has amplified the precarious nature of such gig work. Amid rising infections, Raulston said she’s forced to juggle speed with safety. Since her husband is immunocompromised, she said fulfilling each order isn’t just risky for her, but her husband as well.

“It terrifies me,” she said. “Stores are packed and people in my town don’t care about wearing masks.” Still, turning down an order isn’t an option, Raulston said. “We need the money.”

For Kersting, who uses San Francisco-based DoorDash to deliver from fast-food restaurants, deactivation is her biggest fear. She guards her rating fiercely: “Anything less than a ‘5’ could get you kicked off,” she said. According to DoorDash’s deactivation policy, once a driver has accepted at least 20 orders, those with a customer rating below 4.2 or a completion rate below 80% may be subject to deactivation.

In a statement, DoorDash said a “transparent ratings system” is “a central part of how” shoppers receive and understand customer feedback. The company also said that it gives drivers the option to appeal a deactivation or poor rating.

In the past few months, Kersting has also had to contend with customers who claim an order was never delivered-what she said is a scheme to collect a free meal. She now takes pictures of her deliveries as proof they were dropped off. “People are struggling with money. I get it, it’s a pandemic and times are tough,” she said. “But it also really hurts drivers.”

New York-based driver D’Shea Grant, 42, has also had experience with customers claiming theft. She said DoorDash’s rating system is “good for accountability” and keeps her focused. While “it’s far from perfect,” Grant said disputes are typically resolved within “a few days.”

Still, other delivery workers complain appeals don’t usually succeed.

“You could contact them everyday to tell them ‘hey, I did everything right,’ and still not get it resolved,” said Robb. “You have no idea what went wrong or which customer it even came from. Most customers don’t understand that any rating less than five stars crushes us.”

In March, at the outset of the pandemic, Instacart paused prioritizing access to orders based on ratings, in addition to forgiving all ratings under five stars. Shipt rolled out a similar policy in April. Both companies have since reverted to their pre-pandemic rating structures, according to their websites.

“The shopper ratings system was designed to be reliable, fair and accurate, and we have several measures in place to ensure shoppers are not unfairly rated for reasons outside of their control,” San Francisco-based Instacart said in a statement.

DoorDash recently went a step further by phasing in updates to its ratings system on Dec 17. In addition to its earlier decision to exclude ratings impacted by factors deemed out of a driver’s control, the new system includes a detailed breakdown of their average rating, customer feedback including direct quotes for more transparency, and the ability to dispute lateness prior to deactivation. According to the company, a full roll out of is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

In October, Shipt phased in a new pay scale that eliminated its original commission structure in favor of an algorithm the company says is based on the “effort” shoppers put into the order. Before the change, Raulston said she was making US$500 (RM2,031) to US$700 (RM2,844) a week, earnings she said helped her get back on her feet after she lost her home.

Under the new system, Raulston says she’s making a lot less. Shipt states that the new system incorporates variables like travel time, total order items, time of day and traffic “to pay for the effort and work completed.” It eliminates the previous 7.5% commission on the total order value. The company said “there isn’t a formula that can be shared because each metro has unique characteristics that can affect the shopping experience.”

Kersting, a mother of three, said that while she understands the companies’ reasons for acceptance ratings, they strip shoppers of the ability to choose orders worth their time. “They want to make sure you’re reliable, I can’t blame them,” she said. “But this is a pandemic. We’re out there risking our safety and health.” – Bloomberg



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The Sweetest Gig is Hiring Mitzvah Team ‘Kids Write Chocolate Reviews in Hebrew’

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Join The Mitzvah Team to Taste World's Best Chocolate and Write Creative Reviews in Hebrew at The Sweetest Gig #thesweetestgig #mitzvahteam #hebrew www.TheMitzvahTeam.com

Join The Mitzvah Team to Taste World’s Best Chocolate and Write Creative Reviews in Hebrew at The Sweetest Gig #thesweetestgig #mitzvahteam #hebrew www.TheMitzvahTeam.com

Our High Purpose Kid Love Work Program is a Rewarding Experience Specially Suited for Grateful Professional Working Families that Love Preparing Their Kids to Succeed in Life #thesweetestgig www.TheSweetestGig.com

Our High Purpose Kid Love Work Program is a Rewarding Experience Specially Suited for Grateful Professional Working Families that Love Preparing Their Kids to Succeed in Life #thesweetestgig www.TheSweetestGig.com

The Sweetest Gig Preparing Kids for Life #thesweetestgig #kidslovework #kidsearnperks www.TheSweetestPerk.com

The Sweetest Gig Preparing Kids for Life #thesweetestgig #kidslovework #kidsearnperks www.TheSweetestPerk.com

The Sweetest Gig is a fun meaningful weekend work program teaching kids skills. Kids are hired to taste the world’s best Chocolate and write creative reviews.

Inspire Your Kids to Join The Mitzvah Team…We’re Making Learning Hebrew Fun, and Sweet.”

— Carlos Cymerman, Fun Advocate+Founder, The Sweetest Gig

SANTA MONICA, CA, UNITED STATES, January 19, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — Recruiting for Good (R4G) is a staffing agency helping companies find talented professionals and generating proceeds to fund The Sweetest Gig (preparing kids for life).

On The Sweetest Gig, Middle School kids are hired to taste The World’s Best Chocolate, write creative reviews, and earn fun perks. Kids who join The Mitzvah Team write reviews in Hebrew.

Kids that complete 3 successful reviews between February and April, 2021; earn mom gift (a box of fine chocolate, home delivered for Mother’s Day).

According to Recruiting for Good and The Sweetest Gig, Founder, Carlos Cymerman, “The Sweetest Gig is a mitzvah. We’re preparing kids for life by teaching that anything meaningful, rewarding, and worthwhile; takes time and effort.”

How Parents Help Their Kids Land The Gig

The Sweetest Gig is a high purpose work program for grateful working professional families that make a difference in LA.

One parent needs to be fluent in English; email Sara(at)TheSweetestGig(dot)com to make an appointment and speak with Carlos, the Founder.

Kids attend Middle School in LA and learned Hebrew in the US (Hebrew School or Jewish Day School).

Kids that desire to earn Mother’s Day gift; need to land gig by February 9th, 2021 (hiring just 25 kids).

Carlos Cymerman, adds, “Parents contact me today to help your kids land The Gig….We’re making learning Hebrew; fun, and sweet.”

About

Before launching staffing agency, Recruiting for Good, Founder, Carlos Cymerman worked as a teacher for 10 years during and after college. And Recruiting for Good has been sponsoring creative writing contests for the last 10 years (for adults and kids). In 2014, he created and sponsored a creative writing program at Olympic High School in Santa Monica.

The Sweetest Gig is a rewarding ‘Kid Love Work’ program; especially suited for ‘Grateful Working Professional Families’ that love preparing their kids to succeed in life. Sweet Creative Middle School Kids are hired on weekends to taste The World’s Best Chocolate, write creative reviews, and earn fun perks. The Sweetest Gig is created by Carlos Cymerman, and sponsored by Recruiting for Good. “Kids learn that anything meaningful, rewarding, and worthwhile; takes time, and effort.” www.TheSweetestGig.com

Summer Camp May Not Be Back…The Sweetest Gig Will Be… “Sweet Love Festival.” Fun Creative Summer 2021!

Since 1998, Recruiting for Good has been a purpose driven staffing company. Companies retain our recruiting agency to find talented and value driven professionals who love to use their talent for good in Accounting/Finance, Engineering, Information Technology, Marketing, Operations, and Sales. www.RecruitingforGood.com. R4G is on a fun mission; preparing kids for life to succeed thru ‘The Sweetest Gig,’ fun love work program.

Recruiting for Good Created The Goodie Foodie Club whose purpose is to help fund ‘The Sweetest Gig’ so more kids can learn to love work and prepare for life. Participate in our meaningful Referral Reward Program today to Enjoy The Sweetest Rewards (12 Months of Sushi, or 12 Months The Finest Chocolate Delivered to Mom). www.TheGoodieFoodieClub.com

Carlos Cymerman
Recruiting for Good
+1 310-720-8324
email us here
Visit us on social media:
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn



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Fugro wins Suedlink Section 2 gig – reNews

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Fugro has won a multidisciplinary contract on Germany’s SuedLink renewables powerline, which will transport electricity generated by offshore wind in the north of Germany to the south.

Vossing Engineers awarded Fugro a geotechnical and water consulting contract to support the route planning, permitting and installation of 106 km of underground power cables on Section 2 of Germany’s new Suedlink powerline.

The entire 700 km cable is due to be completed by 2028 and will be the country’s largest energy infrastructure project when completed.

Fugro‘s multidisciplinary consultancy services on the project include site investigation supervision, hydrogeological expertise and environmental support.

Vossing Engineers will then use Fugro’s geo-data acquisition, and ground and environmental risk mitigation advice, to optimise the cable route layout to “reduce costs, accelerate the schedule and ensure the successful implementation” of Section 2.

Vossing project director Wido Schmidt-Heck said: “Vossing’s challenge on Section 2 of the Suedlink project is to combine approximately 150 staff from different companies into one exploration, design and permitting team.

“This consultancy contract with Fugro facilitates that strategic cooperation and we look forward to a successful delivery.”

Fugro project manager Dirk Brinschwitz said: “I am proud to be managing this important energy transition project.

“At Fugro, our knowledge and services are the foundation of the carbon-neutral and safe energy supplies contributing to a safe and liveable world. Our comprehensive consulting package, which allowed Vossing to form a single multidisciplinary team, was a major factor in Fugro winning this contract award.”

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NYC girl lands gig on upcoming PBS Kids show ‘Alma’s Way’

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National Review

Joe Biden’s Pandemic-Relief Bill Is a Mess

At the outset of the pandemic, the government undertook a deliberate effort to reduce economic activity in what was widely thought to be a necessary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. Whereas most recessions call for policy that stimulates the economy, the COVID-19 recession called for the opposite — measures that would enable workers and businesses to hit pause until a vaccine or therapeutic became widely available. Now that vaccines are being administered, policy-makers face a different challenge — not keeping Americans inside, but getting them back to work as quickly as possible. In this context, President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package misses the mark. The proposal gives a nod to public health — with $20 billion allocated to vaccine distribution, $50 billion to testing, and $40 billion to medical supplies and emergency-response teams — but fails to address the most pressing hurdles to COVID-19 immunity. Vaccines sit unused not for lack of funding but thanks to burdensome rules determining which patients can receive shots and which doctors can administer them. Additional spending to speed up vaccine distribution is welcome, but its effects will be muted if bureaucratic hurdles remain in place. Even if the public-health provisions were to succeed in reopening the economy, much of the rest of Biden’s plan guarantees that it will reopen weaker. For one, an expanded unemployment-insurance top-up of $400 a week would mean more than 40 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits would make more off-the-job than on-the-job at least until September, and possibly for longer. The food-service and retail industries hit hardest by the pandemic would see the largest shortfalls in labor, exacerbating the challenges they’ve faced over the past year. Enhanced unemployment may have been reasonable when we wanted workers to stay home, but it’s catastrophic when we want them to go back to work. Meanwhile, Biden’s proposed minimum-wage increase to $15 nationally would eliminate an estimated 1.3 million jobs, hitting low-income states hardest. In Mississippi, where the median wage is $15, as many as half the state’s workers would be at risk. A minimum-wage hike may be high on the Democratic wish list, but it does not belong in an emergency-relief bill. The Biden plan isn’t all Democratic priorities, though. He took a page from Trump’s book and proposed $1,400 checks to households, bringing the second-round total to $2,000. With household income now 8 percent above the pre-pandemic trend, additional checks would do little more than pad savings accounts. Indeed, 80 percent of the recipients of last year’s checks put the money into savings or debt payments, not consumption. The flagship item in Biden’s plan would do little to spur economic growth even on Keynesian assumptions. The same goes for state and local aid, for which Biden is seeking $370 billion on top of $170 billion in public-education grants. The total of $540 billion far surpasses the roughly $50 billion hit to state and local tax revenues last year. As we wrote in December, states and cities are slow to spend federal grants, so the lion’s share of this stimulus would not show up until 2023. Rather than attempting to stimulate the economy, Biden is hoping to launder bailouts of profligate Democratic states through COVID-19 relief. Other parts of the bill — expansions of the earned-income and child-tax credits — are defensible long-term structural reforms, but as year-long emergency measures, they will have the same muted effect as direct checks. By including a slew of proposals unrelated to the pandemic, Biden has weakened his hand in negotiations and made it less likely that urgent measures pass quickly. In the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic policy-makers rose to the occasion. Following an unprecedented external shock, the U.S. economy has emerged in relatively good shape, with less unemployment and bankruptcy than most feared. But the policies implemented to curb COVID-19 are not suited for what will begin to become, over the course of this year, a post-pandemic economy. Biden may have campaigned during a recession, but he is taking office during a recovery. He should govern accordingly.

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