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Punta Gorda is top small city for gig workers | Charlotte Sun

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Punta Gorda ranks as one of the best cities for working in the food delivery business, according to a recent study by AdvisorSmith, a small business research website.

Gig workers, as they are called, averaged earnings of $18,518 per year in Punta Gorda, versus $16,923 nationwide.

In its analysis, AdvisorSmith examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau reported from tax returns, showing earnings and employment data for gig workers in the delivery industry.

“We examined 376 cities to find the places where gig workers earn the most on a cost-of-living adjusted basis, and where gig work is plentiful,” said spokesperson Brenda Franco. “We found the 50 best cities for gig economy delivery workers, along with the top 20 small, midsize, and large cities.”

In the small city category with population of under 200,000, Punta Gorda came in at No. 7.

The food and grocery delivery business was non-existent not too many years ago. In fact, the presence of Bite Squad, Door Dash, GrubHub and Uber Eats delivery workers is rather recent. The services began to provide delivery in Punta Gorda a scant two to three years ago. Before that, either restaurants would deliver or else the customer would pick up their own food, or dine in.

But that all changed with the advent of delivery services that provided both convenience and, during the pandemic, necessity.

Not all restaurant owners and managers are pleased with the delivery companies, however. We spoke with owners and managers of six popular eateries, and got only negative comments, including some from Diane Amaral who, along with her husband Doug, own both River City Grill and Italia located in downtown Punta Gorda.

Amaral said that she prefers having her staff bring food out to her customers’ cars, as her customers have reported glitches in using the services. Among the complaints, she said, was a customer who said that when the food was delivered, “it was all over the place.”

Some complained about the higher charges, and inside the restaurant the staff would get automated messages from the delivery companies, which would come in the midst of trying to serve patrons at peak hours. However, those who use the services will certainly be accommodated, Amaral emphasized.

One counter person at a popular pizzeria that has two locations, said that after customer complaints, she banned a driver and his company, only to have him reappear later working for a competitor.

And still a third staff member at a popular seafood restaurant said that her restaurant preferred that customers do their own takeout, or dine in, as having the food delivered hot and on time could not be guaranteed.

But in these pandemic times, more and more people are using the food delivery services as well as grocery delivery services such as Instacart.

And gig delivery workers in Punta Gorda would undoubtedly be glad to know that they are working in an area where the potential for higher earnings exists in their industry.

Other small cities and their rankings were:

1. Beckley, West Virginia

2. Homosassa Springs, Florida

8. Morgantown, West Virginia

Overall, the top three cities, regardless of size, were Beckley, West Virginia, where workers earned an average of $28,149 in a city with a very low cost of living; Tyler, Texas, where gig workers averaged $31,276 in a city with a low cost of living and host to the University of Texas; and Homosassa Springs, Florida, where workers averaged $28,744.

AdvisorSmith in its report said that as online commerce and ordering become more a part of the fabric of our everyday lives, delivery work is becoming more integral to our economy on a daily basis: “Americans have become accustomed to having everything from groceries to toilet paper to pizza delivered to their door minutes after tapping on their smartphones. Additionally, the rise of phones and online platforms has allowed more workers to join the gig economy.”

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As Congress scrutinizes gig worker rules, small-business owners need to know the basics – The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Uber’s UK ruling could have implications for gig economy startups

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Former Uber drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar first brought their case against Uber in 2016
(Carl Court/Getty Images)

The UK’s Supreme Court has rejected Uber‘s appeal against an earlier ruling that said its drivers must be classified as workers, a result that may have a significant impact on other gig economy companies.

The decision—which cannot be appealed—means thousands of UK Uber drivers cannot qualify as being self-employed, entitling them to both minimum wage and holiday pay. The ridehailing company could now face paying substantial compensation to its drivers.

The ruling, which criticized Uber for sidestepping UK labor laws to withhold benefits, could influence other battles between gig workers and the companies that hire them. Earlier this month, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain appealed against a court decision preventing riders for food delivery startup Deliveroo from engaging in collective bargaining due to their self-employed status. Deliveroo, which is backed by investors including Durable Capital Partners and Amazon, is looking to go public this year.

“Employees should benefit from improved rights; however, employers are likely to face increased costs of labor and disruption to their business models, which have proven to achieve rapid scale with gig workers,” said PitchBook analyst Nalin Patel. “The ruling may also now set a precedent in the UK and force other gig economy startups that utilize the self-employed contractor model to rethink how they operate in the region moving forward.”

Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam originally won their tribunal against Uber in 2016. Uber appealed the decision, but it was upheld in 2017, and again in 2018 by the High Court.

“This ruling will fundamentally re-order the gig economy and bring an end to rife exploitation of workers by means of algorithmic and contract trickery,” said Farrar, who is also a general secretary with the App Drivers and Couriers Union. “Uber drivers are cruelly sold a false dream of endless flexibility and entrepreneurial freedom.”

In a statement, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood,  said the court decision was focused on a “small number of drivers” who used the app in 2016. Since then, he said the company had made changes to its business,  providing free insurance in case of sickness or injury. He added: “We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”

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The future is now for gig-based entrepreneurship – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

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With Californian Kamala Harris as vice president, it’s clear the new Biden administration is taking its cues from the once-Golden State on labor policy.

In one of its first acts in office, the Biden Administration placed a regulatory freeze on a Department of Labor regulation enacted in the waning days of the prior administration relating to independent contractors.  The rule, according to labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips, “aims to make it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors.”

It’s unlikely this rule to give more workers freedom to be their own boss and set their own schedules will survive in a Biden administration that was heavily reliant upon labor unions for money and manpower to win the 2020 campaign.

Meanwhile, House Democrats recently re-introduced the controversial PRO Act in Congress, which “seeks to reduce the use of the independent contractor classification by companies such as Uber,” according to CNBC.

Both of these efforts followed the lead of California’s liberal legislative majority, which two years ago enacted the controversial Assembly Bill 5 to severely restrict the ability of Californians to work as independent contractors.  Their goal is to increase union membership and dues and force people to work in traditional, 9-to-5, union jobs that are relics of the past.

Doubling down on AB 5-type restrictions at the national level – which may be the Biden administration’s goal with the nomination of Julie Su, California’s chief AB 5 enforcer, as deputy Secretary of Labor – would be a tremendous mistake.  It would threaten innovation and hurt the ability of Americans who have lost their jobs to put food on the table during a global pandemic.

As documented in the new Pacific Research Institute study, “The Small Business Gig,” Americans are increasingly working in the gig economy.  They don’t want government – whether in Sacramento or Washington, DC – dictating how they can earn a living.

A 2018 Gallup survey found that 36 percent of U.S. workers have some sort of a gig worker arrangement.  Whether renting out an extra room to earn cash to pay the mortgage or using an app to earn a living on an alternate schedule, the gig economy is increasing opportunities for Americans to become entrepreneurs, while providing customers with lower cost services.

Many in California state government see the gig economy as exploitative and disruptive.  But data from the ADP Research Institute shows that 70 percent of gig workers are independent workers by choice.  Gig Economy Data Hub research found that more than two-thirds of gig economy workers are satisfied with their current work arrangement.

Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the economy.  New restrictions on the gig economy, like those proposed in Congress, will limit people’s freedom to become entrepreneurs while institutionalizing the old way of doing work.

Instead of adopting regulations at the federal level that 58 percent of Californians – Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – rejected when they passed Proposition 22 in November, the Biden administration and Congress should take the opposite approach and enact market-based policies to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

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