Labor Department Reverses Trump-Era Rule for Gig Workers

On May 6, the Biden administration rescinded the “Independent Contractor Rule,” created during the Trump administration, that made it easier to classify gig workers as independent contractors. The Department of Labor stated that withdrawing the rule would “maintain workers’ rights to the minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh added that the move will “stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect.” Continue reading Labor Department Reverses Trump-Era Rule for Gig Workers

Amazon: Jeff Bezos Touts New Vision for Employee Success

In the wake of Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama voting against unionization, company founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos stated that, “it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success.” Seventy percent of workers at the Alabama warehouse voted against the union. Bezos, who will step down as chief executive — but remain as chair — in Q3 this year, touted the fact that Amazon helped 200+ million Amazon Prime members save $630 each during the year. Continue reading Amazon: Jeff Bezos Touts New Vision for Employee Success

Defeated Union Calls Foul on Amazon Win, Continues Efforts

Although workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama voted against unionizing with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), that union’s president Stuart Appelbaum said it planned to challenge the results, accusing Amazon of “illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign.” RWDSU director of communications Chelsea Connor specified that “alleged behavior” included placement of a USPS mailbox on the grounds of the warehouse, which some workers described as intimidating because they believed Amazon was monitoring voters. Continue reading Defeated Union Calls Foul on Amazon Win, Continues Efforts

Amazon Faces Pressure from Workers to Improve Conditions

As Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama prepare to vote this month on whether to unionize, the Big Tech company is getting pressure from its staff worldwide to improve working conditions. President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders have expressed support for unionizing the Alabama warehouse and workers have already cast “thousands of votes.” Meanwhile, Amazon deleted hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers’ profiles from the internal online staff directory, which has some charging the company with union busting. Continue reading Amazon Faces Pressure from Workers to Improve Conditions

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

Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Amazon’s robust holiday shopping quarter garnered $125.5 billion in sales and net income of $7.2 billion, the first time the company reached $100+ billion in quarterly revenue, and only days after Apple achieved the same milestone. Amazon amped up sales when it moved its two-day Prime Day shopping event from summer to October. The company’s overall 2020 sales hit $386.1 billion, a 38-percent year-over-year jump. According to analysts, e-commerce grew about 50 percent during the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Tech Employees Organize to Launch Alphabet Workers Union

The Alphabet Workers Union was just formed by 400+ Google engineers and other workers. The formation of this union, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), is the result of years of activism at the Big Tech company focused on new policies on pay, harassment and ethics. The union was organized in secret for about a year and elected its leadership last month. Unlike most unions, this “minority union” represents only a small number of the company’s 260,000 full-time employees and contractors. Continue reading Tech Employees Organize to Launch Alphabet Workers Union

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

Unions and Studios Agree to New Rules for Safe Productions

Hollywood unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers inked new safety protocols to enable the return of film and TV productions after six months of inactivity due to COVID-19. The Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Basic Crafts unions and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists inked the deal after months of negotiation. On June 12th, the unions adopted the “Safe Way Forward” protocols. Continue reading Unions and Studios Agree to New Rules for Safe Productions

California Okays Production for June 12, But Hurdles Remain

California governor Gavin Newsom’s office said that film and television shoots can begin again as soon as June 12. According to the California Department of Public Health, however, the county public health officers must first approve where the film, TV and music productions will take place. Further, everyone on the production must adhere to a detailed guide on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmissions, including the end of craft services’ buffets and strict cleaning measures such as wiping down handheld props after every use. Continue reading California Okays Production for June 12, But Hurdles Remain

HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

COVID-19 stopped film and television production in its tracks. Now, the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) formed an HPA Industry Recovery Task Force to examine how to move forward with new content creation and sustainably restart the production and post-production industries as the world wrestles the pandemic. HPA president Seth Hallen announced that the task force’s “focus is to understand how to get our industry back to work.” The Hollywood film and TV industry directly employs about 927,000 people across the country. Continue reading HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

In a narrow vote, Kickstarter employees decided to unionize, joining the Office and Professional Employees International Union and becoming the first time a well-known technology company has done so. Although there has been a growing movement among white-collar tech workers at such companies for unionization, this organizing has also been a source of tension and conflict. In general, tech workers have also become more vocal over issues from fulfilling government contracts and climate change to sexual harassment. Continue reading Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

T-Mobile and Sprint Clear Another Hurdle to Finalizing Merger

The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless carriers, is nearly approved after a drawn-out battle. The Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department cleared the merger in June, but the process ground to a halt when attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia sued. This week in Manhattan, U.S. District Court judge Victor Marrero rejected the suit, leaving one last step to navigate. The new company will be called T-Mobile and have about 100 million customers. Continue reading T-Mobile and Sprint Clear Another Hurdle to Finalizing Merger

Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

In Pittsburgh, a group of about 80 HCL Technologies contractors working at Google has voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers. Although the group represents only a small number of the many contractors employed by Google, it represents one of the first groups of tech workers to unionize in the U.S., according to United Steelworkers. At Google’s Bakery Square offices, contractors work side-by-side full-time Google employees but are paid less and receive fewer benefits, leading to the push to organize. Continue reading Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

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