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Gig workers are here to stay, but they might pose a hidden cybersecurity risk

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Whether intentional or not, gig workers can cause security breaches. Here’s how to set your company up for safety.

TechRepublic’s Karen Roby spoke with James Christiansen, VP and CSO of Netskope, about cybersecurity concerns with the gig workforce. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Karen Roby: We talk about the gig workforce. We’re seeing so many people working in such a different way now. The problem with that is cybersecurity becomes a big issue. Let’s talk a little bit about how big of an issue this is because, I mean, again, the gig workforce is just growing exponentially.

SEE: IT expense reimbursement policy (TechRepublic Premium)

James Christiansen: It’s crazy, Karen. Actually, that’s what got me really interested in this subject was the first time I looked at some of the stats, they were unbelievable. I mean, 52% of the participants are from the pandemic. So as people lost their jobs, they went to the gig workforce. What absolutely was stunning to me when I looked at, greater than 90% of the U.S. People polled said they would do a gig job.

Well, that really has two pieces to it. It means that if they’re gig worker like, let’s say, you’ve got Uber workers working for Lyft, direct competitors at the same time, that’s one thing. But when you get into the tech world and you have, maybe your employee is doing a gig, unbeknownst is going to go to a competitor. These stats are just shocking when I saw 90%, that means somebody I’m working with, the stats will say, is doing a gig job on the side. We’ve always had side jobs, but never where the data was so prevalent and could be leaked out to industrial espionage, sensitive data.

We’ll go through, I think, probably some of the examples of the type of people. But it’s that stat, 90%, it’s 3X growth, 300% growth in this area. So, as you said, it is exploding. Half the Millennials use gig jobs, yeah.

Karen Roby: Yeah, significant numbers there really when you think about it, James. The problems that that can pose, again, as far as connectivity and security, and I mean, people are vulnerable, therefore their companies are vulnerable.

James Christiansen: Absolutely, yeah. It’s the problem, of course. We’ve dealt with contractors for a long time. We’ve hired contractors. I even used to work for a contracting company. But that company, I was a full-time employee of, and they made sure I had background checks, I had a secure laptop that I worked from. They would make sure I never worked in a competitor space. Well, these are freelance workers. The gig economy is about freelance workers. As these freelance workers go from gig to gig, that data can accidentally …

I mean, when you look at the insider threat, because that’s what we’re talking about is that new insider threat. In fact, it would be the most difficult one in all my over 25 years that I will have faced because it’s even more difficult than normal insider because of the monitoring aspect. How do I detect them? They can be in so many different roles. I mean, you can have an application developer. I’ve got a great example of a real live case where a developer was doing a gig work. It was actually a funny case. But they could be market analysis, they’re coming in to do pricing analysis for you.

SEE: Juggling remote work with kids’ education is a mammoth task. Here’s how employers can help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Well, you give them all your sensitive data, you might give them your top sells men’s names. You might give them how much commissions they’re earning to do their analysis. Well, that data, then when they’re finished with it, how do you know if it gets deleted? How do you know they might accidentally … Like I said, there’s the malicious insider, but then the non-malicious where they just accidentally do something that discloses the data. In fact, that’s probably more prevalent than the malicious insider.

But there’s all these different power workers. I’ve done a number of investigations, cybersecurity, legal investigations, and we’ll bring in external legal counsel helping crunch the data. That’s very sensitive data that after that gig is done could actually be leaked out. So this is why it’s so shocking, and it’s why we absolutely need to talk about it more. I even turned to my global network and said, hey, what do you think about this? What are the best ways of mitigating these risks that we’ve got?

Karen Roby: That leads me to my next obvious question. We know what the problem is. We know that it’s prevalent. So, what do we do about it?

James Christiansen: Well it’s really, first, I think understanding, what are the gig worker attributes? They are going to be here typically short-term, they’re not usually long-term contracts. In fact, some of the normal things we would do is background checks. Well, as you start to think about what do you do, well, how do you do a background check on somebody? It takes two weeks to get a background check done, and they’re only going to be here two weeks.

James Christiansen: It’s really, first, starts with understanding the culture of your company. One of the things that’s always absolutely essential as a successful chief security officer is understanding the culture. Well, in this case, I think we’ve got to start with educating the key executives. What is the gig worker? Why do they pose this threat they do? What kind of threats? And then we can talk about how to mitigate those things. My first suggestion is you’ve got to have a policy within your company about, hey, do we hire gig workers or not? Do we want to stay with more traditional contractors or not?

SEE: Virtual events don’t have to be tiresome: Okta came up with a new way (TechRepublic)

Now, my recommendation for everybody’s lean into it. It is absolutely going to be part of our economy. If you try to fight, it will be like trying to fight cloud. But if you lean into it, then you can say, “Well, let’s get the right things in place. Let’s talk about where and when we use gig workers.” So, you can educate your hiring managers when it’s appropriate to use them. We talked about administrative controls. So there’s three different kinds of controls I would talk about.

First, sets administrative. Giving guidance to your organization about how to use freelance-type help when it’s appropriate, when it’s not. Here’s the things, if you’re going to use them, you should do, so that first set of policies. Then talk about your vendor management policies. You still need to make sure they get a contract in place that has all the liabilities. Here’s something required by law for most industry sectors is breach notification. So, if by chance that gig worker should breach your data, you want to make sure they’re obligated to notify you because that’s absolutely required, so you can do notification investigation.

But if you don’t have that in the contract basis, of course, it becomes that increasing threat. You can find yourself on the wrong time of regular reaction. Then we’re going to talk about new-hire training. Make sure you’ve got it in that new hire … they get the gig worker. Maybe it’s a really skinnied down version, but they are actually educated on your practices, your policies. That awareness training we do with our employees is still really important.

Now, you may even require they use your machine. Now, that’s typical of a contractor, and we’re distinguishing a contractor from a freelancer. Often these are such short engagement, they’re using their own machine. Ensure you can put in there, you have to have these policies, these things. There is automation you can put in there. When they log in to your network, you can actually check their machine to see if it actually does have virus control encryption, some of those things. So that’s more of the technical layer of controls.

SEE: Nearly half of 2020 college grads still haven’t found work (TechRepublic)

Now, the real key thing here is monitoring for this. How do we know that they are engaged in a gig contract? Because one of the key things that really bothers me is most of the time thinking about this, we’re thinking about, OK, I just hired somebody in to do maybe some marketing work or some programming. That’s the one edge of the gig. The other edge is just the most scary is, it could be one of your fellow employees that’s doing a gig assignment. Now they probably don’t intend harm for the companies, they’re full-time employees. But then again, they may just not maliciously link the data. So we have to put these controls in place and monitoring.

Now, the monitoring is the most difficult part because if you used our system, our machine, the same when you used to log in, I absolutely could detect it. But more than likely, the gig user is going to go use a private machine when they’re working on the gig, so therefore I don’t have the monitoring pieces in place. So the best control there is going to be user behavior. What you’ll watch for, and one example is, a normal worker will log in, do a lot of intensive work, and then log out maybe hours later. Well, if you start seeing someone log in, check a few things, then log back out, more likely, they just came to look at that routine they wrote or download something on their machine they’re going to use.

You might spend $100,000 creating a parsing utility for an application code R&D. Well, they need that parsing at the new gig, do you think they’re going to rewrite it? No, they’re going to say, “Well, I did that already. It’s in my toolbox, let me just go get it and I’ll adapt it.” So that’s how these things work. When you think about user behavior analytics, that’s the one place you can start to see differences in behavior of a normal worker, and if this person might be a gig worker. Of course, you’re going to have to restrict the access rules as much as you can. They only have access to the data they want to do that they’re going to use.

Now, depending again on which kind of sector you’re in, so we’ve talked through some of the administrative controls, the technical controls, the detective controls, so now we’re going to think about, well, what other kinds of things I can do? There’s something called virtual desktop, VDI. VDI has been around for a long time. What it does is actually virtualize your whole desktop, so nothing actually gets downloaded. You’ll see it used often in the banking industry where they’re really strict on security. Now, you can implement that to protect yourself on a freelance worker, but the problem is it’s very restrictive. Usually it isn’t a very good interface. While I’ve tried to implement it in a couple of my past roles, it didn’t go over very well.

SEE: 9 ways to make sure you hire the best freelancers for your company (TechRepublic)

The other aspect you can do is call remote browser isolation, where it takes at least that stuff that’s in the browser and isolates it. So, that’s another control where it’s not as restrictive as the VDI, but certainly remote browser isolation is another option. Perhaps one of the best controls you can put in place is digital rights management. What that does is it actually lets you put right in, let’s say you’ve got a PowerPoint, or a Word, or an Excel spreadsheet, you can actually put rights management right on that so that they can open it, but if they try to share it anywhere or it gets out in the loose, it actually can’t be opened because the actual security flows with the document itself.

Again, the only problem there is the used cases. If you go back to my example earlier where it was an application programmer that was leaking code that they had written and used before, that doesn’t work very well in that kind of circumstance.

Karen Roby: James, a lot of things to consider. Some great advice. I think the interesting thing you say, which is really great is just to lean into this because this type of workforce isn’t just going away now that we’re starting to get back to normal. I mean, things are changing and our workforce is changing so quickly. Well, I really appreciate you being here with me today, James.

James Christiansen: It’s something we do need to talk about because it’s that hidden threat that we haven’t really exposed, we haven’t really put the right controls in place. It’s hard to even talk to executive teams about, hey that, you might have workers, the people that you trust might accidentally do something that could harm the company. It’s a cultural change. I mean, that’s the other key thing is, we’re talking about a culture change. When I entered the workforce, you had a lot of loyalty to the company you worked for. At General Motors, people would work there, one job, 30 years.

Karen Roby: Whole life, yeah.

James Christiansen: Now, 18 months, they’re on … there’s no difference between an employee relationship than a contractor when it comes to loyalty, so we can’t rely on that anymore. So, it’s a cultural change that we have to embrace. Like you said, and I said, this is not going away, lean into it, embrace it, understand it, and then let us put the right things in place.

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TechRepublic’s Karen Roby spoke to James Christiansen, VP and CSO of Netskope, about cybersecurity concerns with the gig workforce.

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Gig companies’ push for state-level worker laws faces divided labor movement

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By Tina Bellon

(Reuters) – Uber and other gig economy companies are trying a new approach to ending their battles with unions, and getting ahead of possible federal regulation that could upend their business based on classifying workers as independent contractors.

In New York, for example, gig economy companies are working with several unions including the Machinists and Transport Workers Union to strike a compromise that would allow drivers and food delivery workers to organize in a union and negotiate minimum pay and other benefits without being reclassified as employees.

With the support of the unions, the gig economy companies are pushing state lawmakers in Albany to pass a bill that would allow workers to negotiate wages and caps on company commission fees, and provide unemployment insurance in some circumstances.

Among the most vocal opponents of a proposed bill to achieve that goal is the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) northeastern Local 32BJ, which says the compromise would enshrine gig workers’ misclassified status and create a company-sanctioned union that would only further erode workers’ rights by setting no floor for the negotiations.

“This legislation moves workers backwards,” Kyle Bragg, 32BJ’s president said. “There’s too much company manipulation.”

Amid the controversy, efforts to have the bill introduced before the end of the state’s legislative session this week failed.

New York is just one of several states where gig economy companies led by Uber, Doordash, Lyft and Instacart are courting unions and state officials in an effort to cement their workers’ status as independent contractors across the United States.

FAULT LINES

The push by the gig economy companies has exposed divisions within organized labor over whether to bargain with the companies, or insist on workers being reclassified as employees with full protection of U.S. labor standards – and a clear legal right to join unions.

The rifts at times also run within the same union. For example, while 32BJ rejects the New York bill, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in the past said she would back workers’ demands in reaching a deal with companies. The SEIU declined to comment for this story.

Similarly, the New York chapter of the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, backs the compromise proposal, while members of its Colorado chapter said they were opposed to bargaining agreements with the gig companies.

According to a Reuters review, the companies over the past few months set up lobbying groups in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado and Washington to push for laws that declare app-based ride-hail and food delivery drivers independent contractors, while proposing to offer them some benefits. In some states the companies hope for buy-in from labor groups, company and union officials said.

The companies are trying to build on their success in California, where voters approved an industry-backed ballot measure that exempts ride-hail and food delivery workers from rules that require other types of contractors to be classified as employees, and provides them with limited benefits.

The companies say they pursue tailored policies for each state to combine flexibility for their mostly part-time workers with benefits and protections. They have yet to offer concrete proposals in most states.

Some executives hope state-based independent contractor laws can also forestall federal action by the labor-friendly Biden administration, which has vowed to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

“The models that are developed at the state level can be given a framework at the federal level,” Lyft President John Zimmer said during an interview last month.

While any state law could be superseded by federal rules, Zimmer’s calculation assumes that the U.S. Labor Department is less likely to act once facts on the ground are established.

The companies’ race for state backing runs counter to the labor movement’s single biggest legislative priority, the passage of a far-reaching labor reform bill known as the PRO Act in Congress. The bill would make worker organizing easier and among other things reclassify most independent contractors as employees for the purpose of collective bargaining, though not for wage laws and benefits.

The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-led U.S. Senate, but even if it did, several years of regulatory and court wrangling would ensue, a time during which gig workers’ rights would remain unchanged, said Wilma Liebman, former chair of the National Labor Relations Board.

SKEPTICS ON BOTH SIDES

Some union figures have therefore taken a more pragmatic approach. Andy Stern, former president of the SEIU and at the time one of the most politically influential labor leaders, for the past six years has been trying to strike deals between the gig companies and unions, including failed attempts in California to ward off the ballot measure.

The California referendum, a costly victory for the gig companies, was also a cautionary tale for unions, as well as for drivers, who are now left without any avenues to organize or object to the terms stipulated by the companies.

Stern said internal union surveys in New York had repeatedly shown that a majority of drivers did not want to be employees and said debates focused solely on reclassification were based on unrealistic and purist sentiments.

Stern instead advocates for drivers’ rights to organize in unions and negotiate their own contracts.

“Give a worker a union and collective bargaining and they’ll decide themselves what kind of status, wages and benefits they want. People who believe litigation and legislation are the solution have failed these workers,” Stern said.

Stern and others dubious of reclassification point to Seattle and New York City, where years of union efforts to organize drivers have led to the only driver minimum wage laws in the country.

Uber and Lyft have rocky histories with unions and workers who want to organize. The companies in 2015 enlisted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a years-long court battle against a Seattle law spearheaded by the Teamsters union that would have allowed ride-hail drivers to bargain collectively.

Uber more recently appears to have opened up to such agreements, however. The company last month recognized Britain’s GMB union as the collective bargaining unit of its 70,000 British drivers. Lyft’s Zimmer said the company was having constructive conversations with labor leaders.

Many union officials remain skeptical about basing workers’ fate on the goodwill of companies.

“You never get everything you want out of collective bargaining…and it would be better to give drivers more options and protections under the law,” said Kjersten Forseth, political and legislative director for the Colorado AFL-CIO, which plans to make state-based gig worker policy solutions its focus over the next two years.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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US Domestic News Roundup: Gig companies’ push for state-level worker laws faces divided labor movement; Former Virginia Governor McAuliffe wins Democratic primary in closely watched governor’s race and more

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Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

Gig companies’ push for state-level worker laws faces divided labor movement

Uber and other gig economy companies are trying a new approach to ending their battles with unions, and getting ahead of possible federal regulation that could upend their business based on classifying workers as independent contractors. In New York, for example, gig economy companies are working with several unions including the Machinists and Transport Workers Union to strike a compromise that would allow drivers and food delivery workers to organize in a union and negotiate minimum pay and other benefits without being reclassified as employees.

Former Virginia Governor McAuliffe wins Democratic primary in closely watched governor’s race

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe easily won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday for the state’s gubernatorial election, securing his spot in a race that could signal where voters stand after the divisive 2020 presidential contest. McAuliffe, a 64-year-old moderate who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, was leading four other candidates, with more than 60 percent of the vote with 2,063 precincts of 2,584 reporting. Major news organizations projected him the winner shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m.

U.S. Senate passes sweeping bill to address China tech threat

The U.S. Senate voted 68-32 on Tuesday to approve a sweeping package of legislation intended to boost the country’s ability to compete with Chinese technology. An indignant China responded to the vote by saying it objected to being cast as an “imaginary” U.S. enemy.

U.S. pharmacist jailed for three years for tampering with COVID-19 vaccines

A Wisconsin pharmacist who pleaded guilty to trying to spoil hundreds of doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine because he was skeptical about them has been jailed for three years, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesay. Steven R. Brandenburg, 46, was also ordered to pay about $83,800 in compensation to the hospital at which he worked, according to a statement https://www.justice.gov/usao-edwi/pr/hospital-pharmacist-sentenced-attempt-spoil-hundreds-covid-vaccine-doses on Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

U.S. forming expert groups on safely lifting global travel restrictions

The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions, a White House official said on Tuesday. Another U.S. official said the administration will not move quickly to lift orders that bar people from much of the world from entering the United States because of the time it will take for the groups to do their work. The White House informed airlines and others in the travel industry about the groups, the official said.

Senator Manchin unmoved by U.S. civil rights leaders’ voting rights push

Seven U.S. civil rights leaders met with Senator Joe Manchin to urge the Democrat to drop his opposition to a sweeping election reform bill backed by his party, but the West Virginian emerged from the virtual meeting unmoved. The bill is a Democratic response to a slew of measures making their way through Republican-controlled state legislatures, which voting-rights activists say would limit the ability of some voters to go to the polls.

U.S. to buy about 1.7 million courses of Merck’s COVID-19 treatment for $1.2 billion

Merck & Co Inc said on Wednesday the U.S. government has agreed to buy about 1.7 million courses of the company’s experimental COVID-19 treatment, molnupiravir, for about $1.2 billion, if it is authorized in the country. Molnupiravir is an experimental antiviral therapy Merck is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19 patients who are not hospitalized.

U.S. Vice President Harris pledges to visit U.S. southern border

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday defended herself from Republican critics who criticized her for making her first international trip to Mexico and Guatemala instead of visiting the U.S. border with Mexico, saying she has visited the border and will do so again. After meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico City, Harris told reporters she had “been to the border before and will go again.”

Gambling habit: nun admits squandering school cash at casinos

A retired California nun has agreed to plead guilty to federal fraud and money laundering charges for stealing more than $835,000 from a school to pay for personal expenses including gambling trips, the Justice Department said. Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, faces a maximum jail time of 40 years in federal prison for the charges, according to a Tuesday statement https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/nun-who-ran-catholic-school-torrance-will-plead-guilty-federal-charges-after-embezzling from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California.

U.S. investigates disclosure of tax records on rich Americans

The Treasury Department has asked law enforcement authorities to investigate the disclosure of tax records cited in a media report that showed that some of America’s richest people paid little to no income taxes, U.S. officials said on Tuesday. U.S. media outlet ProPublica said it obtained “a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years.” The data indicated that billionaires including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla founder Elon Musk paid no federal income taxes during some years.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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RPT-FOCUS-Gig companies’ push for state-level worker laws faces divided labor movement

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(Repeats to additional customers)

By Tina Bellon

June 9 (Reuters) – Uber and other gig economy companies are trying a new approach to ending their battles with unions, and getting ahead of possible federal regulation that could upend their business based on classifying workers as independent contractors.

In New York, for example, gig economy companies are working with several unions including the Machinists and Transport Workers Union to strike a compromise that would allow drivers and food delivery workers to organize in a union and negotiate minimum pay and other benefits without being reclassified as employees.

With the support of the unions, the gig economy companies are pushing state lawmakers in Albany to pass a bill that would allow workers to negotiate wages and caps on company commission fees, and provide unemployment insurance in some circumstances.

Among the most vocal opponents of a proposed bill to achieve that goal is the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) northeastern Local 32BJ, which says the compromise would enshrine gig workers’ misclassified status and create a company-sanctioned union that would only further erode workers’ rights by setting no floor for the negotiations.

“This legislation moves workers backwards,” Kyle Bragg, 32BJ’s president said. “There’s too much company manipulation.”

Amid the controversy, efforts to have the bill introduced before the end of the state’s legislative session this week failed.

New York is just one of several states where gig economy companies led by Uber, Doordash, Lyft and Instacart are courting unions and state officials in an effort to cement their workers’ status as independent contractors across the United States.

FAULT LINES

The push by the gig economy companies has exposed divisions within organized labor over whether to bargain with the companies, or insist on workers being reclassified as employees with full protection of U.S. labor standards – and a clear legal right to join unions.

The rifts at times also run within the same union. For example, while 32BJ rejects the New York bill, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in the past said she would back workers’ demands in reaching a deal with companies. The SEIU declined to comment for this story.

Similarly, the New York chapter of the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, backs the compromise proposal, while members of its Colorado chapter said they were opposed to bargaining agreements with the gig companies.

According to a Reuters review, the companies over the past few months set up lobbying groups in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado and Washington to push for laws that declare app-based ride-hail and food delivery drivers independent contractors, while proposing to offer them some benefits. In some states the companies hope for buy-in from labor groups, company and union officials said.

The companies are trying to build on their success in California, where voters approved an industry-backed ballot measure that exempts ride-hail and food delivery workers from rules that require other types of contractors to be classified as employees, and provides them with limited benefits.

The companies say they pursue tailored policies for each state to combine flexibility for their mostly part-time workers with benefits and protections. They have yet to offer concrete proposals in most states.

Some executives hope state-based independent contractor laws can also forestall federal action by the labor-friendly Biden administration, which has vowed to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

“The models that are developed at the state level can be given a framework at the federal level,” Lyft President John Zimmer said during an interview last month.

While any state law could be superseded by federal rules, Zimmer’s calculation assumes that the U.S. Labor Department is less likely to act once facts on the ground are established.

The companies’ race for state backing runs counter to the labor movement’s single biggest legislative priority, the passage of a far-reaching labor reform bill known as the PRO Act in Congress. The bill would make worker organizing easier and among other things reclassify most independent contractors as employees for the purpose of collective bargaining, though not for wage laws and benefits.

The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-led U.S. Senate, but even if it did, several years of regulatory and court wrangling would ensue, a time during which gig workers’ rights would remain unchanged, said Wilma Liebman, former chair of the National Labor Relations Board.

SKEPTICS ON BOTH SIDES

Some union figures have therefore taken a more pragmatic approach. Andy Stern, former president of the SEIU and at the time one of the most politically influential labor leaders, for the past six years has been trying to strike deals between the gig companies and unions, including failed attempts in California to ward off the ballot measure.

The California referendum, a costly victory for the gig companies, was also a cautionary tale for unions, as well as for drivers, who are now left without any avenues to organize or object to the terms stipulated by the companies.

Stern said internal union surveys in New York had repeatedly shown that a majority of drivers did not want to be employees and said debates focused solely on reclassification were based on unrealistic and purist sentiments.

Stern instead advocates for drivers’ rights to organize in unions and negotiate their own contracts.

“Give a worker a union and collective bargaining and they’ll decide themselves what kind of status, wages and benefits they want. People who believe litigation and legislation are the solution have failed these workers,” Stern said.

Stern and others dubious of reclassification point to Seattle and New York City, where years of union efforts to organize drivers have led to the only driver minimum wage laws in the country.

Uber and Lyft have rocky histories with unions and workers who want to organize. The companies in 2015 enlisted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a years-long court battle against a Seattle law spearheaded by the Teamsters union that would have allowed ride-hail drivers to bargain collectively.

Uber more recently appears to have opened up to such agreements, however. The company last month recognized Britain’s GMB union as the collective bargaining unit of its 70,000 British drivers. Lyft’s Zimmer said the company was having constructive conversations with labor leaders.

Many union officials remain skeptical about basing workers’ fate on the goodwill of companies.

“You never get everything you want out of collective bargaining…and it would be better to give drivers more options and protections under the law,” said Kjersten Forseth, political and legislative director for the Colorado AFL-CIO, which plans to make state-based gig worker policy solutions its focus over the next two years. (Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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