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Landmark Uber judgement could impact gig workers

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This is what you have been writing to us about this week.

You may be aware that recently the Supreme Court ruled Uber drivers should be given workers’ rights, but what you might not know is that this landmark judgment will have repercussions for others working in the gig economy.

Leigh Day is also representing Addison Lee drivers and Stuart couriers in similar workers’ rights claims.

Both of these companies currently use contracts that class people working for them as ‘independent contractors’ which means they are not entitled to workers’ rights.

This judgment should be heeded as a warning to companies with a similar business model that they cannot continue to operate in this way.

We hope the Supreme Court’s decision helps Addison Lee and Stuart to recognise that the people working for them should be given the basic rights such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage. 

After all, all these people are asking for is to be treated fairly.

Michael Newman, employment team partner, Leigh Day

To send your own letter, email bfpletters@london.newsquest.co.uk.

Please note, any letters sent to the Bucks Free Press office are only being picked up periodically as all staff are still working from home.



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‘Jeopardy!’ guest-hosting gig brings out some of Rodgers’ quirks

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) — We are learning quite a bit about Aaron Rodgers over the course of his run as guest host on Jeopardy! We’re learning he’s not afraid to openly campaign for the job as permanent host, he’s ready to spread his wings on his Instagram page (possibly with some prodding from fiancée Shailene Woodley), and we’re hearing him talk more than ever.

While watching Wednesday’s Jeopardy! episode, morning anchor Mike Curkov noticed some of Rodgers’ quirks that he hadn’t noticed before his two week stint on Jeopardy! Watch the video for more.

Jeopardy! airs weekdays at 6 pm on CBS 58. 



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Gig Worker Classification Worsens Inequities During Pandemic, Organizer Says

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Drivers for apps like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have said that being classified as independent contractors while working during a pandemic means they face the impossible choice between paying their bills and managing their exposure risk. Cherri Murphy, a lead organizer for Gig Workers Rising, spoke with “Civic” about drivers’ circumstances.

Murphy began driving for Lyft in 2017.

“I felt that it was a godsend, because they offered this whole thing around flexibility,” she said. But that perception shifted quickly. “There’s nothing flexible about not having access to restrooms. There’s nothing flexible about having the looming threat of an accident with no coverage. There’s nothing flexible about me being in the middle of a pandemic, with not having access, particularly in the beginning, of safety equipment. And, you know, those things are really difficult.”

Uber and Lyft have both issued statements emphasizing that they are trying to support drivers throughout the pandemic. Lyft says it has provided tens of thousands of face masks, cleaning supplies and in-car partitions to drivers at no cost to them, and that Lyft does not profit off personal protective equipment it sells to drivers. Uber told Business Insider that it had allocated $50 million toward safety supplies for drivers and had provided 30 million masks and other cleaning supplies to drivers worldwide.

In March 2020, Murphy was completing a doctoral program at a graduate theological union and her primary source of income was driving for Lyft. She decided she would be able to get by without her earnings and chose to stop driving so as not to expose herself to the coronavirus. Others chose to keep working.

“There were quite a few workers that had their backs against the walls, and that were forced to work,” she said.

During that same pandemic, employment law in California changed with the passage of Proposition 22. The ballot measure categorized gig workers — people who work through apps like Lyft, Uber or Instacart or DoorDash — as independent contractors rather than as employees of those companies. Because they are not considered drivers’ and delivery workers’ employers, the companies are also exempt from providing benefits like unemployment protections, minimum wage and sick leave. Drivers and labor organizers have described that system as exploitative, because drivers lack full employee protections and earn less than they should. The Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, in an October 2019 analysis of Proposition 22, wrote that while the initiative guarantees drivers 120% of minimum wage, since it only applies when the drivers are actually en route to or transporting passengers, drivers may be paid for only 67% of their actual working time.

Murphy said that in the Bay Area, where the majority of gig workers are immigrants and people of color, the classification of gig workers as independent contractors deepens existing inequities.

“Not only are we in the middle of a pandemic, but we’re also in the middle of a movement that’s been really pivotal as relates to COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. And so our perspective is that we know that economic justice and racial justice are interrelated,” Murphy said. “At the end of the day, what you have is a law that continues to create a caste system, not designed to have people be economically sustainable, or work in safe working conditions.”

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Greeson: Wishing our next mayor all the best in his stressful gig leading a stress-filled city

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Tim Kelly cruised to an easy win this week to become Chattanooga’s 66th mayor.

He will be sworn in Monday, along with the nine members of the City Council, including new members Jenny Hill (who also serves on the school board and must believe running for office counts as good cardio, too), Isiah Hester and Raquetta Dotley.

For Kelly, who spent a pot of his own money to topple more than a dozen challengers in the March election and eased by Kim White in Tuesday’s runoff with a commanding 60% of the vote, the challenges are numerous, from long range to looming right around the corner. And the majority of them will not be fixed with a shovel and wheelbarrow.

Everyone will be watching how he will work with Chattanooga Police Department Chief David Roddy. Everyone will be watching how he is able to influence the direction of downtown development — development that is splitting into unsustainable segments from the Tennessee River and North Shore to the bottom of Lookout Mountain.

There are pandemic recovery and jobs issues, affordable housing shortages and, of course, paving and pothole repair. Side note: It will be a welcome relief for our next mayor to put the brakes on the bike lane fiasco, but that’s low-hanging fruit (with apologies to the six peddlers who actually used those in the last half decade).

I could go on, but you get the idea. There is quite a long list of priorities and challenges.

Chattanooga is beginning to shake off its pandemic fatigue, and that’s great news because the Scenic City needs to stretch its legs and, more importantly, retap the tourism money spigot.

A recent online survey by LawnStarter that ranked 191 American cities from most-to-least relaxed based on 57 indicators put Chattanooga near the bottom of most-relaxed cities.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Lawnstarter.com was just a lawn care company hawking the best grass seed or the most affordable push mower.

The company also cranks out surveys ranking cities in a variety of areas, including best cities in which to get stoned.

As for the most- or least-relaxed cities, Lawnstarter crunched everything from rates of depression and high blood pressure to life expectancy and the average length of a work day. The work day averages and livability scores include traffic measurements as well as walking and biking scores. Hey, Lawnstarter, did y’all count our bike lanes?

Sunnyvale, California, was listed as the most-relaxed city in the survey; Kansas City is the least relaxed/most stressed. As for Chattanooga, we ranked 186th among 191 cities studied, right behind Cleveland, Ohio, and just ahead of Clarksville, Tennessee. We’re dealing with a lot of stuff apparently, as we ranked 189th in mental health, 161st in physical health and 183rd in social environment.

Sources for some of the data came from organizations such as American Public Gardens, the U.S. Department of Labor, the FBI and the CDC. Not sure if they got your grade school permanent record, but the survey feels pretty thorough, even though it felt like you needed three degrees and a slide rule to crack the code of the analysis.

Still, our ranking is a bit confounding, because in the realm of interweb reviews, Chattanooga is the LeBron of lists.

On his website, our mayor-elect says, “Chattanooga succeeds when we work together in the spirit of transparency and common purpose. We must act with urgency to seize our opportunity to become the best city in the country.”

Kelly’s “First 100 days” plan looks like he’s prepared to hit the ground running.

It’s going to be a stressful transition, and I wish Kelly all the luck in the world.

He’s going to need it — and we’re going to need him to have it.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.


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