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