Truckers Included in California’s Gig Workers Law | KSRO
Classic bonneted American semi truck with chrome trim and a refrigerator trailer drive on the straight road in the California fields. (Shutterstock)
California’s gig worker law, AB5, does apply to truckers. The law requires employers to provide benefits to workers in gig-economy jobs such as ride share drivers and food delivery. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court handed down the decision Wednesday on a vote of two to one to overturn a lower court ruling. The new ruling could apply to as many as 70,000 truck drivers in California who continue to work while classified as independent contractors. The appeals court heard oral arguments on the case in June. The California Trucking Association has vowed to further appeal the decision.
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MADRID: Food delivery companies based in Spain have three months to employ their couriers as staff under new rules approved on Tuesday by the government, one of the first laws in Europe regarding gig-economy workers‘ rights.
The decree aims to clarify the legal situation of thousands of riders after Spain’s Supreme Court ruled last year that companies must hire them as employees.
“The regulation approved today … places us at the forefront of a technological change that cannot leave labour rights behind,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz said.
A debate on how to regulate workers’ rights in the gig economy is unfolding globally. The European Commission has opened a public consultation period on potential EU-wide rules.
The new Spanish rules came into force immediately, with companies being given 90 days to comply. According to the labour ministry’s calculations, nearly 17,000 riders without a contract have already been identified.
Uber criticised the new regulation
“This regulation will directly hurt thousands of couriers who use food delivery apps for much-needed flexible earnings opportunities and made it clear they do not want to be classified as employees,” a spokesman said.
“The decree approved today by the cabinet is a hard blow for the future of the digital economy in Spain”, according to Adigital, a business industry association that represent gig economy companies including Spanish start-up Glovo and Deliveroo.
Although the legislation makes it harder for companies to have freelance couriers, closing the door on common practice, several riders’ associations and labour experts have said it does not completely resolve their legal situation, anticipating further potential court battles.
In any case, most delivery companies have already started preparing for the change, looking for new business models that will allow them to be profitable.
Just-Eat, the Spanish branch of Take Away, has already hired some of its workers and covers peak demand with workers from transport companies.
Others, such as Glovo, have opted to hire some riders through temporary employment agencies, according to riders.
The government also approved new rules obliging companies to explain to their staff how their workload-sharing algorithms work.
This transparency requirement will affect all platforms, not just food delivery companies.
“Workers have the right to know what motivates business decisions,” said Diaz. “Algorithms are going to be put at the service of the majority.”
South Carolina’s gig economy workers, nonprofits and truckers were bracing for the short-term financial impact after a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline caused the shutdown of its massive fuel-distribution system last week, leading to higher prices and less gasoline availability.
Later in the day on May 12, Colonial Pipeline operators announced they started to resume operations following the ransomware attack but said in a statement that it would take several days for service to return to some areas.
This week, lines at the pump continued to grow throughout the state, and some customers began to panic amid rising prices and declining amounts of fuel. But experts were encouraging people to stay calm and explained the gas delays are a short-term problem.
Many South Carolinians have taken to social media to complain and spread speculation of a long-term gas shortage this week.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned customers in a May 12 tweet that they should “not fill plastic bags with gasoline” as some flock to the pumps to horde extra gallons.
And as of 4 p.m. May 12, at least 45 percent of stations throughout South Carolina were completely out of gasoline, according to Patrick DeHann, an oil and refined products analyst at GasBuddy.com. The Palmetto State followed behind North Carolina at 68 percent and Virginia at 49 percent.
Despite the numbers, Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, said the temporary delays in the gas pipeline should be put in perspective, and that the problem is absolutely temporary.
“The better way to describe it is a supply chain disruption,” Vitner said May 12, before the pipeline was up and running again. “There’s no long-term shortage of gasoline. And we’re amply supplied from a national standpoint. But there’s only a couple of pipelines that supply the major population centers in the South and in the Southeast. And the largest of those is out of commission right now.”
And while the surge in prices and scarcity at some gas stations is temporary, Vitner acknowledged it only piles on hurt to an economy that is still wounded and trying to heal from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national average price of gasoline surpassed the $3-per-gallon mark on May 11, shattering a milestone not seen since 2014.
For gig economy workers such as Ryan Hausemann, a 34-year-old Uber Eats driver from West Ashley, even the short-term inconvenience can cause anxiety. He said the current availability of gasoline was more scarce than he has seen during storms in the past.
“It’s worse in some ways than having a hurricane coming because if you go further inland you can still find gas,” Hausemann said. “I was lucky, I was watching the news and I filled up Monday and got a couple of extra gas cans, as well.”
Hausemann said he can drive as much as 600 miles in a week with UberEats and works about four hours a day making deliveries. Now, he’s holding his breath and hoping the fuel delay will be resolved as soon as possible.
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“I figure I’m good until early next week,” Hausemann said. “If this thing extends into late next week or next weekend, then I’m in trouble.”
Vitner of Wells Fargo said shortages have happened before. But what is new is the impact it has on the vastly growing gas-powered gig economy that has sprung up over the last five years.
For those who rely on ridesharing, food delivery and transportation for their paychecks, these next couple of days could be difficult.
“Since the last time we’ve had a disruption like this, the gig economy wasn’t as large as it is today,” Vitner said. He added that “for folks that are working in those types of jobs, many are likely to be more selective. You’re going to weigh the potential that you can earn versus saying, ‘Do I have enough gas to get this done?'”
Rick Todd with the State Trucking Association said long-haul drivers are anticipating some short-term issues, as well. Most supply trucks, however, run on diesel. But other smaller forms of gas transportation may be affected.
“We’ll assume things will be back up and running soon, but meantime, there may be a few days of shortages and extra effort to find fuel,” Todd said in a statement.
While businesses and gig workers brace for the delays amid the gas shortage, nonprofits that rely heavily on transportation are still trying to help those in need.
East Cooper Meals on Wheels is expected to make deliveries to about 300 people on 21 routes driven by some of its 450 volunteers, the nonprofit’s president, George Roberts, said May 12.
“The meals will go out no matter what,” Roberts said. “No one has indicated they have an issue. But, as we do each delivery day, we will have multiple backup drivers available and we have drivers who are willing to drive two routes if needed.”
Roberts said they check in with all the drivers ahead of time to make sure they’re prepared and the nonprofit has its own Meals on Wheels Subaru Outback, which has a full tank in case staff members need to pick up any possible slack. If there are delays, they’ll send extra meals out with their drivers.
While the delays are slowly decreasing each day, the gas prices may take longer to drop down. Tiffany Wright, a spokeswoman for AAA Carolina, said vacationers for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday may lead to increased prices on road trips.
“Once the pipeline is back online, gas prices will most likely still remain high as it takes time for things to settle… also, demand will increase as we hit Memorial Day, and as demand increases, prices are likely to follow,” Wright said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s top labor official said most gig workers in the United States should be classified as “employees” deserving of related benefits, in what could be a policy shift that is likely to raise costs for companies that depend on contractors such as Uber and Lyft.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a son of Irish immigrants and a former union member, has been expected to boost President Biden’s efforts to expand workers’ protections and deliver a win for the country’s organized labor movement.
“We are looking at it but in a lot of cases gig workers should be classified as employees… in some cases they are treated respectfully and in some cases they are not and I think it has to be consistent across the board,” Walsh told Reuters in an interview on Thursday, expressing his view on the topic for the first time.
“These companies are making profits and revenue and I’m not (going to) begrudge anyone for that because that’s what we are about in America… but we also want to make sure that success trickles down to the worker,” he said.
His work at the Department of Labor is expected to have a major impact on U.S. workplace laws and regulations, including vigorous enforcement of occupational safety and health rules, overtime payments and proper administration of employee benefit plans.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2017 that 55 million people in the United States were gig workers – or 34% of the workforce – and was projected to rise to 43% in 2020.
Walsh’s views on the issue could usher in new rulings from the department, which sets legal guidelines for how employers treat workers. Before his appointment, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) proposed rescinding a rule adopted in January that would have made it easier to classify workers as independent contractors.
Walsh said the Department of Labor will have conversations with companies that employ gig labor in the coming months to make sure workers have access to consistent wages, sick time, health care and “all of the things that an average employee in America can access.”
The Department’s decision could have far-reaching implications on ride-hailing services such as Uber Inc, Lyft and food delivery apps such as Grubhub Doordash and Postmates. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Gig workers are independent contractors who perform on-demand services, including as drivers, delivering groceries or providing childcare – and are one-third more likely to be Black or Latino, according to an Edison Research poll.
Walsh also spoke about the risks that result from not having gig companies paying unemployment insurance for such workers – a scenario that has played out during the pandemic, leaving the U.S. government to foot the bill.
“If the federal government didn’t cover the gig economy workers, those workers would not only have lost their job, but they wouldn’t have had any unemployment benefits to keep their family moving forward… we’d have a lot more difficult situation all across the country,” he said.
The last decade has seen a surge in the number of gig workers, indicating broad economic and demographic shifts and raising concerns around long-term financial security for a growing share of the workforce, according to some experts.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders, Heather Timmons and Dan Grebler)