Massachusetts Court Objects to Gig Worker Ballot Measure

A proposed Massachusetts ballot initiative designating gig drivers as independent contractors was nixed by a state court that deemed it an attempt to avoid liability by companies like Uber and Lyft in the event of accident or crime. The Tuesday ruling effectively halted a $17.8 million campaign in support of a bill the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said violates the State Constitution, with hidden language excepting drivers from being “an employee or agent” of a gig company. The move is the latest in a series of skirmishes between gig companies and local governments.  Continue reading Massachusetts Court Objects to Gig Worker Ballot Measure

Seattle ‘Pay Up’ Legislation Created to Support Gig Workers

Seattle’s City Council has unanimously passed the “Pay Up” bill, designed to improve working conditions and compensation for on-demand gig workers, increasing wages and mileage reimbursement for the region’s app-based labor pool. Beginning in 2023, apps including DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats will be required to pay delivery drivers per-minute and per-mile rates, with the clock ticking the minute the drivers accept an order. Pay Up is the first step in Seattle’s ongoing effort to protect app-based workers, which one councilmember called “one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy.” Continue reading Seattle ‘Pay Up’ Legislation Created to Support Gig Workers

Clearview AI Courts Investors While Facing Privacy Pushback

Clearview AI is positioning itself for a major expansion that is already generating major controversy. At a December financial presentation, the New York-based firm reportedly predicted it will have 100 billion facial images in its database by the end of 2022 — or about 14 photos for each of the earth’s 7 billion people. And there is said to have been talk of surveilling gig economy workers, identifying people based on how they walk and remotely scanning fingerprints. While the company’s 34-year-old founder and chief exec Hoan Ton-That is careful to present the firm as a crime-fighting tool, its broader implications are chilling. Continue reading Clearview AI Courts Investors While Facing Privacy Pushback

European Commission Advances New Rules for Big Gig Firms

The European Commission took steps last week to require ride-hailing firms and others to classify drivers and couriers as employees, which would entitle them to minimum wage and other legal protections. Should they go into effect, the proposed rules would impact some 4.1 million people, and would make the European Union among the strictest in the world when it comes to protecting so-called gig workers. Uber and others that depend on low labor costs and limited liability are expected to fight the proposal, which must proceed through several legislative steps before being codified as law. Continue reading European Commission Advances New Rules for Big Gig Firms

Uber and Lyft Attempt to Protect Gig Worker Business Model

Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, which have been branching out into areas such as food delivery and scooter rentals, spent about $200 million to pass a ballot initiative that countered California’s 2019 legislation giving gig workers the status of employees. The two companies are now focused on avoiding the same battle in other states by pushing for legislation classifying their drivers as contractors. In New York state, for example, Uber and Lyft offered bargaining rights and other benefits to their workers, but not full classification of employees, which could raise their prices 20 to 30 percent. Continue reading Uber and Lyft Attempt to Protect Gig Worker Business Model

UK Supreme Court Rules 70,000 Uber Drivers Are Employees

Uber has battled for years around the world against reclassifying its drivers as employees, which would force it to pay higher wages and benefits. In the United Kingdom, however, it just announced that it would reclassify its 70,000+ drivers as workers and provide them a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to a pension plan. Uber’s move comes in the wake of a unanimous British Supreme Court ruling that found Uber drivers deserved more protections. UK labor laws, however, offer a middle ground between freelancers and employees. Continue reading UK Supreme Court Rules 70,000 Uber Drivers Are Employees

Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which will allow gig workers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others to remain independent contractors. These three companies created the proposition to exempt them from a state labor law that would require them to treat drivers as employees and pay for healthcare, unemployment insurance and other benefits. Proposition 22 does include a wage floor and some benefits for drivers. San Francisco, headquarters for Uber and Lyft, presented the strongest opposition. Continue reading Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

DoorDash, Lyft and Uber executives had already pledged $90 million to back California Proposition 22, exempting them from a new state labor law requiring gig workers to be reclassified as employees. But, said sources, political strategists told them they needed to spend even more to have a chance of passing the measure. Now, as we get closer to the November 3 election, backers have spent almost $200 million. A UC Berkeley poll found only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure and 36 percent are opposed. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

Appeals Court Gives Lyft, Uber Greenlight to Operate for Now

Hours before Lyft and Uber planned to suspend their services to protest the ruling to reclassify their drivers as employees, an appeals court allowed them to continue operating during the appeals process. Uber spokesperson Matt Kallman noted that the company is glad “that access to these critical services won’t be cut off while we continue to advocate for drivers’ ability to work with the freedom they want.” The companies must still submit plans for hiring employees by early September, in case their appeal is denied. Continue reading Appeals Court Gives Lyft, Uber Greenlight to Operate for Now

California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

In California, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman confirmed Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s decision that Lyft and Uber are violating California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). Schulman paused the injunction for 10 days to allow those companies to appeal his decision. AB5 requires that the two ride-hailing companies reclassify their California drivers as employees, making them eligible for healthcare and overtime among other perks. Due to COVID-19, Uber suffered a 67 percent decline in the June quarter. Continue reading California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

Ride-Sharing Slumps, Leaving Uber and Lyft Drivers in Limbo

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Uber’s business slumped between 60 and 70 percent. After saying in February that it expected to generate between $16 billion and $17 billion this year, the company now says it cannot forecast its revenue. D.A. Davidson senior research analyst Tom White said that, with regard to ride-sharing, “the whole country is going to be down 70 to 80 percent.” The coronavirus has also highlighted a crucial labor issue: whether ride-share drivers are considered employees or independent contractors. Continue reading Ride-Sharing Slumps, Leaving Uber and Lyft Drivers in Limbo

JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

JPMorgan Chase has developed an e-wallet for Airbnb, Amazon, Lyft and the like, to allow them to offer customers virtual bank accounts, car loans and home rental discounts. In doing so, these online marketplaces and gig economy companies will end up spending less on payment processing fees to third parties — including JPMorgan. That might sound counterintuitive, but the catch is that the companies can only avail themselves of the offerings if they let JPMorgan handle all the payment processing and cash exchanges. Continue reading JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

Uber Intros App to Match Workers with Array of Temp Jobs

In Chicago, Uber Technologies rolled out Uber Works, an app that matches workers with companies looking to fill temp positions. Uber will work with TrueBlue and other staffing companies, but will set the wages via an algorithm. The launch of the app comes as the company is under fire by regulators and struggles to make a profit. California, for example, just passed a law that would force companies to reclassify gig workers from independents to employees. Uber (and Lyft) spent money this year opposing the recently passed law. Continue reading Uber Intros App to Match Workers with Array of Temp Jobs

Gig Economy Companies Responding to New California Law

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), a law that will classify some independent contractors as employees and takes effect January 1. Companies such as Lyft and Uber Technologies, whose employees are among those that might be reclassified, redoubled both their resistance to the law and plans to negotiate again with relevant labor unions. At the same time, these companies are making noise about initiating a ballot-measure campaign to rewrite the standards for independent contractors. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Responding to New California Law

California Law Limiting Gig Economy to Take Effect January 1

The California State Assembly gave its final approval, in a 56-to-15 vote, for AB5, a bill that strikes a blow against the gig economy, forcing companies such as Lyft and Uber to treat contract workers as employees. The bill originally passed in the State Senate in a 29-to-11 vote and applies to all app-based companies. Governor Gavin Newsom, who endorsed the bill, is expected to sign it; the law will go into effect January 1. Uber has stated it will do “whatever it takes” to keep their drivers independent contractors. Continue reading California Law Limiting Gig Economy to Take Effect January 1