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Don’t Complain About Gig Workers, Complain About Their Companies

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*pinches bridge of nose* Look, everyone is still getting used to some new normals, one of which is the proliferation of grocery delivery services like Instacart. On the surface it seems great — someone else brings your groceries to you! But, as with any service that relies on the folly of humans, there are setbacks and mistakes. Maybe you asked for low-fat mayonnaise, and the store was out, so the person bought you Miracle Whip. Maybe there are a few bruises on your apples, or maybe they couldn’t find the apples so they swapped them out for something else, maybe even something ridiculously un-apple-like, such as onions. Annoying, yes! Maybe even ridiculous, yet still people should roll with it, understanding that mistakes happen, especially when you’re using a service that brings groceries to your door.

But sometimes people do not roll with it. On April 27, Bitch editor Evette Dionne tweeted that “Men must be banned from being Instacart shoppers,” and after receiving dozens of affirming replies, tagged Instacart, writing, “Train male shoppers better please.” Later, after receiving pushback, she said that the previous tweets were jokes, but whatever her intention, the tweets launched thousands of complaints about incompetent men who couldn’t find certain items, or made replacements the recipient considered odd, or asked too many questions about the order.

Spun into a joke about the incompetence of men in the pop feminism space of the internet, the assumption was that these mistakes were somehow connected to manhood and patriarchy, and that it is the women, as it were, who should be shoppin’. It’s true, yes, that many men are terrible. It’s also true that the gig economy is based on paying next to nothing for a service that offers cheap rates by underpaying workers of all genders.

Grocery delivery services like Instacart have seen a profit boom since the pandemic began because not everyone has the physical ability or the time to do their own grocery shopping. And yes, it is ridiculous, as one person tweeted, to order eight potatoes and receive eight bags of potatoes. But someone, maybe even some idiot guy, is being potentially exposed either way, only now it’s typically an underpaid gig worker. Over the past year, Instacart workers have gone on strike for increased pay, only to be retaliated against with a cut to their bonuses. They rely on tips to make anything close to a living wage, and Instacart has a history of penalizing workers and suspending their accounts for things that aren’t their fault, like canceling an alcohol order when it’s discovered the customer was a minor.

Shoppers are also subject to low ratings when they get orders wrong, usually because a store was out of a certain item, which in turn keep them from higher-paying orders. One Instacart shopper described the experience of receiving a low rating to Vox, after trying to communicate to a customer that several of the items were out of stock:

The way Instacart works is this: A handful of orders appear on the shopper dashboard, and shoppers choose which orders they wish to fulfill, typically by how much pay the order promises. However, shoppers with higher customer ratings get first pick — the higher-paying orders. Even though shoppers in the, let’s say, 4.9- to five-star range provide virtually the same quality service, those even slightly below a perfect five-star rating can slip to orders that pay significantly differently.

…When I received a four-star rating after dozens of five-star ratings, my average dropped to 4.96. With it, my newly limited batches shrank my average earnings from $25 per hour to much lower, likely below New York’s $15 minimum wage. I became a bottom feeder, seemingly receiving the leftover orders that, by other shoppers’ definition, paid an amount that was not worth accepting.

Twitter user Dan Sheehan also commented on customers’ expectation of a “luxury service,” and that when shoppers must take dozens of orders to make a decent day’s wages, they don’t have the time to make sure every piece of produce is perfect. Also worth noting that those who complained on the thread of dumb mistakes — like the eight bags of potatoes — were fully refunded after informing Instacart and the shopper who messed up was likely penalized with a blow to their rating. (And if they happen to be looking for a home for those free extra potatoes, try a community fridge or offering them to neighbors. We are living in a food crisis, after all.)

This is all to say we’re all human, and a man who has made it his literal job to go grocery shopping is not your shitty husband who forgot milk again. It’s a pandemic, and if you are this mad about your Instacart shopper bringing you the wrong ice cream flavor, there are other ways to focus your energy: Like, say, writing your senators about supporting legislation that classifies gig workers as employees who can earn living wages.



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Free the Gig Economy! | City Journal

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Last week, the Biden administration made another effort to drag the U.S. labor market back into the past. The Department of Labor withdrew the independent-contractor rule, a Trump-era regulation that made it easier for firms to classify workers as contractors instead of employees. It’s not yet clear what will replace it, though President Biden says he supports the ABC test that California tried to implement, which would classify most contractors as employees—including not just drivers for Uber and Lyft but even freelance writers.

The Labor Department and the media are framing the administration’s move as a way to ensure that workers in the gig economy are protected and paid overtime and minimum wage. Yet many workers prefer the flexibility of contract work, which lets them set their own hours and work for other companies. According to a Fed survey, most gig workers report high levels of satisfaction with the arrangement. When California tried to classify gig workers as employees, the state faced pushback not just from companies but from gig workers themselves.

They have good reasons to prefer it. The nature of work is changing, as it has throughout history. It once was considered dehumanizing that most workers should be beholden to a single employer. Today, we’re forcing this arrangement on people who don’t want it.

The rollback of the Trump rule joins a list of policies—efforts to increase unionization, low-skill manufacturing, and “shovel-ready” infrastructure jobs—by which the Biden administration is attempting to shoehorn the modern labor market into a 1950s mold. The problem with these policies is that the labor market has changed. When work was more uniform, workers were easier to replace, so forming strong ties to one’s employer made sense for job security. Unionization also made sense because it allowed the large numbers of lower-skilled workers to pool together for similar pay and benefits.

Over time, however, manufacturing, construction, and most other jobs have become more technical, requiring skilled workforces. The more skilled the workers, the less incentive they have to attach themselves to individual jobs or to pool risk with fellow workers. The more skills you have, the less unionization makes sense because you’re effectively subsidizing lower-skilled workers. And workers today also place a higher premium on flexibility. This may explain why the unionization drive at Amazon has not succeeded.

As we emerge from the pandemic, we should expect the value placed on flexibility in work arrangements to increase. The expanded availability of remote work, combined with the continuing unpredictability of school re-openings and child-care arrangements, make benefits like the ability to set your own hours and the freedom to work for multiple employers more important than ever.

Some Biden policies, like making it easier to buy health insurance without an employer, move in the right direction. The administration would do well to pursue more measures like these that embrace the new economy, rather than trying to force workers into structures better suited for the economy of more than a half-century ago.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images



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Pixelbet becomes latest GiG Comply sign-up

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Gaming Innovation Group has lauded a “growing demand” for its automated affiliate marketing compliance screening tool after securing an agreement with Pixelbet.

The company’s solution enables operators to set-up their own criteria and checklist parameters to scan and check affiliate websites for content including igaming code red words, links and regulatory requirements across multiple jurisdictions

It works by using its rules engine to analyse real snapshots from affiliates’ campaigns, and provides operators with the promotional content that is being used in their brands’ promotions.

“The growing demand for our compliance solution is a clear sign that we have created a solution that has become the go-to compliance tool within the igaming industry,” noted Jonas Warrer, CMO at GiG.

“It’s great to see that new and ambitious companies such as Pixelbet value the importance of marketing compliance, we look forward to supporting them in their marketing compliance efforts with GiG Comply.”  

GiG Comply will permit the Malta-based gaming firm to set-up bespoke checklist parameters, which can be tailored to cover market-specific legislation and advertising standards. 

This will allow the group to remain proactive and in control of their affiliate marketing by ensuring that affiliates are aligned with their brand, that responsible gaming measures are visible on relevant pages, and terms and conditions are correct and up to date. 

Eirik Kristiansen, CEO of Pixelbet, added: “We are excited to partner up with GiG through its market-leading GiG Comply software. This strong product fits perfectly with our current and future business objectives, enabling us to further improve how we manage our affiliate compliance operations. 

“This partnership will help Pixelbet ensure that our affiliates can continue offering high quality experiences that are fully compliant with regional regulations and requirements.”



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GiG adds Pixelbet to its list of partners for GiG Comply – European Gaming Industry News

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Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GiG), has signed an agreement with Malta based gaming company, Pixelbet Digital Ltd. for its automated affiliate marketing compliance screening tool, GiG Comply.

GiG Comply is a self-service marketing compliance solution, which enables operators to set-up their own criteria and checklist parameters to scan and check affiliate websites for content including iGaming code red words, links and regulatory requirements across multiple jurisdictions. GiG Comply works by using its rules engine to analyse real snapshots from affiliates’ campaigns and provides operators with the promotional content that is being used in their brands’ promotions.

GiG Comply will enable Pixelbet to set-up their own criteria and checklist parameters and can be tailored to cover any market-specific requirements, helping to ensure that they remain compliant in multiple jurisdictions. This will not only help Pixelbet to ensure they remain compliant and safeguard their licence but will also help them to achieve their mission to be the number one authentic and trusted esports sportsbook online.

Eirik Kristiansen, CEO of Pixelbet, said “We are excited to partner up with GiG through its market-leading GIG Comply software. This strong product fits perfectly with our current and future business objectives, enabling us to further improve how we manage our affiliate compliance operations. This partnership will help Pixelbet ensure that our affiliates can continue offering high quality experiences that are fully compliant with regional regulations and requirements.”

Jonas Warrer, CMO at GiG, said The growing demand for our compliance solution is a clear sign that we have created a solution that has become the go-to compliance tool within the iGaming industry. It’s great to see that new and ambitious companies such as Pixelbet value the importance of marketing compliance, we look forward to supporting them in their marketing compliance efforts with GiG Comply.”  

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