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Gig companies facing fights over Prop. 22 in California and in states where they want to replicate it

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After Proposition 22 passed in California last year, gig companies vowed to try to expand what they call an independent contractor-plus model everywhere else.

“The decision in California creates a huge political problem [for the companies],” said Mike Firestone, director of the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, a group formed to fight the gig companies backing a Prop. 22-like initiative in Massachusetts, where gig companies got the necessary certification this month to start collecting signatures for the measure they want to put on the ballot for next year’s elections.

“They don’t think they can convince the legislature to gut civil and worker protections, so they will try to convince voters through a campaign of misinformation and cynicism,” Firestone added. “Now they’re going to try to convince voters to pass a law that’s been struck down as unconstitutional.”

The gig companies, which have said they plan to appeal the ruling, rely on treating their workers as independent contractors instead of employees and do not pay taxes that contribute toward states’ worker-compensation funds, unemployment insurance and other costs other employers bear. The gig companies have long fought to preserve their business models, and their successful $200 million-plus ballot campaign in California emboldened them to try to replicate their efforts elsewhere — which have worker organizers, labor leaders, lawmakers and others gearing up for a fight.

The industry-backed Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work said the Prop. 22 ruling in California has no impact on the companies’ ballot proposal in Massachusetts. “The two states have different constitutions, and the provisions of Prop. 22 that the lower court took issue with are not part of the Massachusetts proposal,” a spokesman said.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Judge Frank Roesch wrote in his Aug. 20 decision that the gig companies overreached with Prop. 22, including by taking away the California legislature’s power to regulate workers’ compensation and collectively bargain.

Besides Massachusetts — where U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called on the gig companies to drop their ballot measure — other states that could see similar efforts include Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington.

In Washington state, a Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday discussed a draft proposal to raise gig workers’ pay to minimum wage plus tips, give them protection against app deactivations and more. According to the proposal, Seattle city officials want to ensure gig workers who “struggle to meet their households’ most basic needs” can fully participate in civic life, thus “benefiting the economy overall.”

Also part of the draft legislation is something that seeks to avoid what Prop. 22 did in California: “The city intends to retain the current definitions of worker classification under Seattle’s labor standards and does not intend to create a new classification of workers distinct from employees or independent contractors.”

In Illinois, an industry-backed political action committee called Illinoisans for Independent Work has run some ads and is trying to “pump up the gig economy as a great employer of the people,” state Sen. Cristina Castro told MarketWatch. But she said the Illinois legislature had been exploring how to ensure gig workers have the same rights and benefits as employees, and she expects legislative action at the end of the year or early next year.

“It’s a bipartisan issue,” she said. “If you look at it, a lot of people don’t know how the gig economy impacts the overall economy. I’ve had to do a lot of educating. It’s flexible work, but you have a lot of low-income folks and people of color using five different platforms to try to put together a living.”

If voters keep getting asked to decide how gig workers should be treated, labor experts are pointing out what’s at stake.

Michael LeRoy, a labor and law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, called Prop. 22 “a special-interest law that creates more burdens on the social safety net that responsible employers have no choice but to pay into.”

California’s Prop. 22 — which exempts the gig companies from a law that would have required them to classify their workers as employees — was supposed to boost Uber and Lyft drivers’ pay to 120% of the minimum wage, contribute toward their health benefits and more. But since California voters passed it in November, drivers have continued to complain about low pay. And many of them don’t qualify for the health-benefits stipend promised under Prop. 22 because as low-income earners, they are on Medi-Cal.

See: Uber and Lyft drivers strike, say earnings are declining despite driver shortage

Also: Uber, Lyft drivers say new California law isn’t solving their health-care needs

The Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition, which is backed by Uber and Lyft, has said “thousands” of drivers in California have received health-care stipends so far. Meanwhile, California voters who voted for Prop. 22 have said they felt deceived by the ballot measure campaign, and that they thought they were helping drivers.

In other legislative efforts, a New York state senator in June dropped her effort to introduce a bill backed by the gig companies that would’ve allowed gig workers collective-bargaining rights but keep them as independent contractors. Some labor groups and others objected to continuing to deny gig workers full employment protections.

Kjersten Forseth, a spokeswoman for the AFL-CIO in Colorado, said that’s not something the union would support in that state, where the gig companies have set up a PAC but have not indicated whether they will pursue a ballot measure or go the legislative route.

“That doesn’t seem to be a fair tradeoff for drivers,” she said, and warned against what she called a bait and switch. “When [the companies] say they’re codifying independent contractor status, they’re making them employees without giving them rights.”

Uber shares have fallen nearly 25% year to date, while Lyft’s stock is up about 4% so far this year. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index
SPX,
+0.85%

has risen about 19% year to date.

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Down with the boss, up with the gig worker – The News Herald

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Napoleon didn’t deride the English as “a nation of shopkeepers,” although that phrase is commonly attributed to him. In fact, it was Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac, a French revolutionary who used it when attacking the achievements of British Prime Minister William Pitt, the Younger.

I think Napoleon was too smart not to have realized that a nation of shopkeepers is a strong nation, and that if the English of the time were indeed a nation of shopkeepers, they would constitute a more formidable enemy.

A nation of shopkeepers, to my mind, is an ideal: self-motivated people who know the value of work, money, and enterprise; and who are almost by definition individualists. So, I regret the constant threats to small business coming from chains, economies of scale, high rents, and some social stigma.

But mostly I regret that in our education system, self-employment isn’t celebrated and venerated as being equivalent to work at larger enterprises.

We define too many by where they work, not by what they do.

I have always believed that one should aspire to work for oneself, to eschew the temptations of the big, enveloping corporation and to strike out with whatever skills one has to test them in the market and to have the customer, not the boss, tell you what to do.

Our education system produces people tailored to be employed, not self-employed.

But things are changing. The gig economy was well underway before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and now it is roaring. Many employees found that the servitude of conventional employment wasn’t for them.

The gig world differs from the small business world that I have described in that it is small business refined to its absolute core: a one-person business, true self-employment.

There are many advantages in self-employment for society and for the larger business world. Hiring a self-employed contractor is easier for a company, not having to create a staff position and pay all the costs that go with it. Laying off a contractor isn’t as traumatic. The worker is more respected, and is asked to do things not commanded. The system gains efficiency.

But if employers come to see the gig economy as just cheap, dispensable labor, then the gig economy has failed.

The gig worker shouldn’t expect security but should be treated in a business-to-business environment. He or she needs to know how to drive a bargain and to have the moral courage to ask for a contract that is fair and recognizes the value that is intrinsic in the gig relationship.

I am a fan of Lyft and Uber. They offer self-employment to anyone with a driver’s license and a car — and the companies will even get you into a car. But the bargain is one-sided. The driver has the freedom to work what hours he or she chooses but not to negotiate the terms of their engagement. That is decided by a computer in San Francisco.

This gig worker can’t hope to hire other drivers and start a small business: It doesn’t pass the gig contract concept. I have talked to many ride-share drivers. They revel in the freedom, but not the income.

Gig workers can be, well, anything from a plumber to a computer programmer, from a dog walker to an actuary.

But for the free new world of gig working to become part of our business fabric, the social structure needs to be adjusted by the government to allow for the gig worker to enroll in Social Security and to charge expenses against taxes as would an incorporated business. Jane Doe, who makes a living designing websites, needs to know that she is a business, not just freelancing between jobs.

A friend who has been self-employed for many years told me recently that he was being considered for a big staff job. I told him to be mindful that he will be trading away some dignity and a lot of freedom. It is hard to get into a harness when you have been running free.

I hope we get many more workers running free. Napoleon would have understood.

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

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Workers are taking on gig giants, one tweet at a time

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For Poonam, Dussehra usually marks the start of a busy festive season giving beauticians like her no time to breathe between house calls, with several gold facials and chocolate waxes squeezed in. But this year, Poonam, along with several other Urban Company (UC) employees, logged out of the app and refused to work till their demands for lower commissions and better working conditions were met. Post-pandemic, Poonam’s monthly earnings had been slashed by half from an average Rs 60,000 a month in 2019 and she was desperate. “One woman was under so much pressure that she was near suicide,” she confides.
On October 8, workers sat on a dharna outside the UC Gurgaon office. Their voices would have probably been ignored but for some behind-the-scenes techies at the All India Gig Workers Union (AIGWU) who helped draft their charter of demands while Twitter accounts like @DeliveryBhoy, @ZomatoPartners, @aigwu_union and @SwiggyDEHyd amplified their protest.
On October 14, UC announced a slew of changes such as cutting commission, unblocking IDs of striking workers and starting a helpline. A UC statement said, “The urgency with which we are moving is because it is the right thing to do and not under business pressure.” This has been a rare victory not just for the 3,500 UC workers in Delhi-NCR but for gig workers across the country. While the gig economy has transformed the world of work, the precarious nature of employment has left many insecure and unprotected. Now, they’re slowly realising that combining forces and using social media can make their voice heard more effectively.
Food delivery workers were the first to take to Twitter, launching more than a dozen handles, three run by registered unions, to aggregate and amplify cases of discrimination (not being allowed to use building lifts or restrooms at restaurants while waiting to pick up orders), and working conditions — be it blocked IDs of riders, lack of responsiveness from the company on accident cases or heavy workloads. Ahmed Mohiuddin, a Zomato delivery agent, started the Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union Twitter handle @TGWPU in August this year. “I barely save Rs 10,000-12,000 a month after fuel costs, maintenance and other expenses despite working over 10 hours a day,” says the 20-year-old who supports his family and pays his college fees with his meagre earnings. Twitter, he says, has encouraged other agents to speak up as well. “Other delivery agents and friends ask me to post on their behalf because the company blocks IDs if it finds out who has posted them,” he adds.
TGWPU founder and national general secretary of the Indian Federation of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT) Shaik Salauddin, who drives a cab himself, says that though it has been a hard task to bring workers together, their social media strategy seems to be paying off. “Earlier, if there was a local-level protest the company would block IDs and just use new agents. Now we use social media to name and shame them.”
In India, the gig economy workforce is estimated at around 8 million people but has the potential to provide work to as many as 90 million people in the next decade, according to a recent Boston Consulting Group report. While this is promising, gig work is far less so. Last year there were a series of protests by Swiggy workers in Chennai, Hyderabad and Noida, protesting against pay cuts and removal of monthly incentives during the pandemic, while ride-hailing giants Ola and Uber also faced protests over the 20% commission charged despite a steep drop in business.
These strikes were spontaneous but ineffective, says Girish (name changed), coordinator for the AIGWU. Girish, a Delhi-based techie, is part of the All India IT and ITeS Employees’ Union and one of the volunteers raising awareness among gig workers, creating structures of leadership and providing support with social media. “We have been helping workers from various platforms connect by holding monthly meetings and strategising with them so they are able to fight for their rights,” he says.
In 2019, a collective of about 40 people including academicians, NGOs, lawyers came under the aegis of the Working People’s Charter to bring workers under a cohesive leadership of IFAT. With the pandemic further impacting income of gig workers, IFAT now has 35,000 members and growing.
Rahul Sapkal, professor at IIT-Bombay and IFAT co-founder, says, “Gig workers are not even recognised as workers under Indian law. We have adopted a multi-pronged strategy — advocacy, studies to capture the impact of the pandemic on their livelihoods and approaching the courts — to build pressure on the government and the companies.” In September, IFAT filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking social security benefits from platform companies including Uber, Ola, Zomato and Swiggy — the first such lawsuit in the country.
Kaveri Medappa, a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex who has studied the living and working conditions of delivery workers in Bengaluru, said that it was unfortunate that Twitter had become a platform for negotiation. “Social media has proved to be the Achilles heel for delivery and ride-sharing companies. Workers have been able to use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to share how work happens, how minutely their lives are controlled and how they are punished,” she says.
A Zomato spokesperson dismissed these allegations as biased misunderstandings. “If these allegations were even remotely true, our business would not sustain. Why? Because…unhappy delivery partners would lead to unhappy customers, which would be terrible for our business. It’s in our interest to ensure they are cared for and that the platform works for them.” The company also said that they had a team of over 1,200 people to address 25,000 support requests and most were solved within 24 hours. Ola did not respond and Swiggy refused to comment on the social media criticism.
Medappa feels the government should be doing more for labour rights. Parliament passed the Code on Social Security in 2020, bringing 250 million unorganised workers within the social security net and providing benefits like old-age pensions, health insurance and disability aids. But the code is yet to be implemented. She cites progressive legislation in UK, and China where workers’ rights have been protected by laws. “Despite threats of retreat of capital, we must continue to push back to be heard,” she says.



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Gigcapital4 (GIG) gains 0.30% for October 15

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Gigcapital4 Inc (NASDAQ: GIG) shares gained 0.30%, or $0.03 per share, to close Friday at $9.89. After opening the day at $9.86, shares of Gigcapital4 fluctuated between $9.93 and $9.87. 53,854 shares traded hands a decrease from their 30 day average of 74,855. Friday’s activity brought Gigcapital4’s market cap to $454,441,544.





Visit Gigcapital4 Inc’s profile for more information.



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BlackRock Beats Q3 Profit Estimates, But Asset Growth Flattens



BlackRock Inc topped third-quarter profit estimates helped by robust performance fees and strong demand for its actively managed and sustainable funds, even as volatile markets hindered the world’s largest money manager from growing its assets under management.



Asset managers have benefited from rising global financial markets in recent quarters as investors put money to work, making the most of the post-pandemic economic reopening, driven by progress on vaccinations and strong fiscal and monetary aid.



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JPMorgan Misses on Third Quarter Revenue, Beats Earnings Estimates With One-Time Items

 



JPMorgan Chase posted a 24% jump in third-quarter profits on Wednesday, largely driven by one-time items that boosted its results, as the bank struggled to grow revenues with interest rates at near-zero levels.



The nation’s largest bank by assets said it earned a profit of $11.69 billion, or $3.74 per share, compared with a profit of $9.44 billion, or $2.92 per share, in the same period a year earlier. The bank had two one-time items that helped boost its profits this quarter: a $566 million income tax benefit and the release of $2.1 billion from its troubled loans books, something the JPMorgan has been doing every three months since the U.S. economy started recovering from the pandemic.



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Emerson Electric To Merge Industrial Software Businesses With Aspen Technology



Industrial software maker Emerson Electric Co (NYSE: EMR) will merge two of its businesses with smaller rival, Aspen Technology Inc (Nasdaq:AZPN), in a deal worth $11 billion. 



The cash-and-stock transaction announced Monday values AspenTech at about $160 per share, a 27% premium to its Oct. 6 close, before Bloomberg News first reported on talks between the two companies. 



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The Nasdaq Stock Market is a global leader in trading data and services, and equities and options listing. Nasdaq is the world’s leading exchange for options volume and is home to the five largest US companies – Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook.



To get more information on Gigcapital4 Inc and to follow the company’s latest updates, you can visit the company’s profile page here: Gigcapital4 Inc’s Profile. For more news on the financial markets be sure to visit Equities News. Also, don’t forget to sign-up for the Daily Fix to receive the best stories to your inbox 5 days a week.



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