Beyond the gig economy: "platform co-ops" that run their own apps

I've written about Up & Go before: that's the worker-owned co-op of home cleaners in New York City that has built a version of the on-demand economy that keeps the convenience but jettisons the predatory capitalists, and as a result, is able to pay its workers $25/hour. Read the rest

Uber pretended its drivers were contractors, and now it owes New Jersey $650m in employment tax

Not everything is legal in New Jersey: Uber has to pay the state of New Jersey $650m in unemployment and disability tax for the employee drivers that it pretended were contractors. Uber is appealing. It will lose. Uber drivers in Jersey are now entitled to unemployment insurance. (via /.) (Image: Quotecatalog, Ervins Strauhmanis, CC BY, modified) Read the rest

Transcription service rev.com cuts "professional transcriptionists'" effective hourly wage from $6.35 to $4.50

Rev.com is a "gig economy" audio transcription company that operates under the fiction that its employees are "independent contractors." Read the rest

Inventing a better future of work: the Working Futures science fiction anthology of better futures for workers and jobs

[Worried about automation and high-tech unemployment, or gig economy labor apocalypses? Techdirt's Mike Masnick and the Copia Institute have pulled together an outstanding anthology of speculative fiction about better futures for work and workers, called Working Futures, which is just out. This kind of speculation-for-good is such a cool idea, and I'm delighted to give Mike a little space to discuss it. -Cory]

Over the past decade -- as technology has advanced in two specific areas: the gig economy and artificial intelligence -- there’s been a lot of discussion about the nature of work and the future of work. I’ve been somewhat frustrated by many of these discussions, as they always tend to fall broadly into two competing camps: people insisting that all the jobs will go away and we’re all doomed, or those who insist that “everything will work itself out, it always does.” Read the rest

Uber general counsel threatens California: pass a law that makes drivers into employees and we'll spend $60m on a ballot initiative to overturn it

AB5 is about to pass the California legislature: it forces companies like Lyft and Uber to comply with the longstanding Dynamex decision and treat their employees as employees. Read the rest

DoorDash "still stealing tips," say workers

A month after DoorDash promised to give workers the tips that customers leave for them, the company is still withholding them, reports Vox.

At the time, CEO Tony Xu announced in a series of tweets that DoorDash would institute a new model to ensure workers’ earnings would “increase by the exact amount a customer tips on every order.” Xu promised to provide “specific details in the coming days.” The next day, Xu sent out a note to DoorDash workers, broadly outlining changes and letting them know “what to expect in the days ahead.”

But 27 days later, current DoorDash workers tell Recode that the company’s pay and tipping policies have stayed the same. The company has not made any public statements about its worker pay and how it plans to institute the changes, nor has it offered a specific date when it will fulfill its promise.

Image of dollar bill: Public Domain, Link Read the rest

The "Uber of Live Music" will charge you $1100-1600 to book a house show, pay musicians $100

Sofar Sounds is an "uber for live music" startup that just closed a $25m round of investment for its product, which books house-shows -- where musicians show up and play in your living room for you and your friends -- at $1100-$1600/each. Read the rest

Science fiction writers on the future of work: Laurie Penny, Ken Liu, Charlie Jane Anders, Nisi Shawl, Martha Wells and others

Wired Magazine has just published a package of eight sf writers visions of "The Future of Work," including some of our favorite authors like Laurie Penny (previously), Charlie Jane Anders (previously), Nisi Shawl (previously), Ken Liu (previously) and others -- eight in all. Read the rest

Uber forces its drivers to arbitrate, rather than sue, but Uber also won't arbitrate

Binding arbitration agreements were formalized in 1925, allowing two corporate entities of roughly equal size to resolve their disputes outside of a court, saving both parties a lot of money, but since then, the primary use of arbitration is to force employees, customers, patients and other comparatively weak parties to surrender their right to sue (or join class actions) as a condition of going to work, seeking care, or simply shopping. Read the rest

Incredibly detailed technical guide to camgirling is a mix of advanced retail psychology and advice on performing emotional labor

Aella was a top-earning, top-ranked camgirl who performed sex shows over the internet for money, using the popular Myfreecams platform; she quit a year ago, and has written an incredibly detailed, soup-to-nuts primer on getting started camgirling, though she warns that some of her advice is out of date. Read the rest

Trying out China's girlfriend rental service

For about $50, you can hire a woman for a few hours to pretend to be your girlfriend in China. Kei, one of the hosts of Asian Boss, tried out the app-based service. He and his "girlfriend" went to a park and tried some exercise equipment, then he sat down and interviewed her about what it is like to be a pretend girlfriend. She told him that she had been working as a pretend girlfriend for two or three years and she is doing it to pay down debt. She says there are 7 or 8 similar apps and she is registered on each one of them.

Image: YouTube screenshot Read the rest

Relying on a ridesharing gig to make money ain't what it used to be

Making a living as an Uber or Lyft driver can be tough. An over saturated market, having too few people in need of your services, paying to maintain your ride and the high cost of gas can all take a serious bite out of a driver's bottom line. Read the rest

America's economic growth has come from subprime borrowing by the poorest 60%

Normally, economic expansion is driven by more spending by the wealthy, and you'd think that 2018 America, where the wealthy are wealthier than they've ever been, would be dependent on the few people with ready cash as engines of economic growth. Read the rest

The future legal shenanigans that will shift liability for pedestrian fatalities involving self-driving Ubers

This week, a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona, the first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle; in his analysis of the event, Charlie Stross notes that Arizona's laws treat corporations that kill people with considerably more forbearance than humans who do so, and proposes that in the near future, every self-driving car will be owned by a special-purpose corporation that insulates its owner from liability. Read the rest

Camperforce: Laura Poitras documentary on the elderly precariat nomads who keep Amazon's warehouses working

Last September, I wrote about Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, Jessica Bruder's important, fascinating book-length investigation into the Americans who live on the road out of economic necessity, including the Camperforce, a precariat army of retirees who saved carefully all their working lives, only to be bankrupted in the 2008 financial crisis who travel from Amazon warehouse to Amazon warehouse, filling in as seasonal and temp workers on gruelling, 12-hour shifts that leave them in pain and with just enough money to make it to the next stop. Read the rest

Google order its secretive "raters'" hours cut, so now they're going public

Google often boasts about the 10,000 skilled raters who test its results, reporting weird kinks in the ranking algorithms and classifiers that the company uses for everything from search results to ad placement to automated photo recognition. Read the rest

The linguistic backflips used by Deliveroo to pretend its employees are independent contractors

Deliveroo is a "gig economy" company that hires people to cycle around big cities, delivering meals, while pretending that all their riders are actually "independent contractors" running their own businesses through which they subcontract to Deliveroo, thus dodging any need to pay benefits or comply with basic labor, health and safety rules. Read the rest

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