Federal judge rules Uber calling its drivers independent contractors may violate antitrust and harm competition

A federal judge has ruled that alleged misclassification of drivers as independent contractors by the ride-hailing service app Uber could harm competition and violate the spirit of America's antitrust laws. Read the rest

Stop saying "robots are coming for your job"; start saying "Your boss wants to replace you with a robot"

Tech reporter and sf writer Brian Merchant (previously) calls our attention to the peculiar construction of the problem statement in articles about automation and obsolescence, in which "robots are coming to steal your job." Read the rest

Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the enforceability of arbitration clauses

Back in January, an Ontario court ruled that Uber's arbitration clause couldn't keep its drivers from suing it; Uber has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has taken up the case and will hear arguments about whether arbitration clauses (through which the parties surrender the right to sue in court) are enforceable in "adhesion contracts" (contracts that are not negotiated, where one party has much less power than the other, such as in click-through agreements). Read the rest

Exploitation of workers becomes more socially acceptable if the workers are perceived as "passionate" about their jobs

In a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a team from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found that people look more favorably on exploiting workers (making do "extra, unpaid, demeaning work") if the workers are "passionate" about their jobs. Read the rest

Googlers around the world down tools for "Knit and Sit" protest over retaliation against organizers of last year's googler uprisings

Senior Google employees Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton were key organizers of last year's string of googler protests, including the 20,000-employee walkout over the company tolerance and rewarding of execs who engaged in sexual harassment; last month, Whittaker and Stapleton revealed that they had been targeted for retaliation by the company; now, a group of googlers around the world have staged another walkout in solidarity with Whittaker and Stapleton, this one a "sit-and-knit" that was also held in solidarity with women who've had their sexual harassment claims mishandled by Google. Read the rest

Big Tech's addiction to illegal, overreaching NDAs protects wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and other evils by "terrorizing" employees

NDAs were once used exclusively to protect bona fide trade secrets, but today's Big Tech companies force new hires to sign far-ranging NDAs that exceed the law in many ways (for example, by banning employees from discussing illegal workplace conditions), as a means of "terrorizing" employees into keeping their mouths shut, lest they face threats from the company's high-powered lawyers. Read the rest

Uber drivers across America are going on strike -- UPDATED

Update: Shona from Gig Workers Rising clarifies: "Gig Workers Rising isn't organizing the national day of action. Drivers in each of the 6 cities taking action are coordinating the day of action together. Drivers in LA with Rideshare Drivers United Los Angeles called a strike and asked other cities to take action on the same day. Gig Workers Rising supports and educates drivers who are organizing across the state. We are not organizing drivers."

On May 8, Uber drivers are organizing a nationwide shutdown of Uber, with drivers turning off their apps in protest over low pay: so far, seven cities' drivers are signed up: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis, LA and DC. Uber and Lyft have both slashed pay for drivers and raised prices as they try to assuage the capital markets. Read the rest

Short videos of skilled and playful workers performing their jobs with acrobatic flair

Kaitlyn Reed created a Twitter thread of videos of (mostly Chinese) workers performing manual tasks with incredible acrobaticism, dexterity and flair; the videos were ganked from Tiktok, the massively popular China-based video platform that is mostly know in the west as a place where tweens make and share elaborately choreographic lipsync videos augmented with a suite of skillfully applied video effects. Read the rest

Older Americans are working beyond retirement age at levels not seen since 1962

If you're an American 65 or older, there's a 20% chance that you're working or looking for work (the chance jumps to 53% if you attained an undergrad or more advanced degree): that's double the rate in 1985. The last time it was this high was 57 years ago, in 1962. Read the rest

Silicon Valley's techie uprisings reveal growing support for socialism in tech

As workers at companies from Kickstarter to Gimlet to Vox vote to unionize, and as traditional labor organizers call on game devs and others to organize, Silicon Valley is a lot more friendly to pro-labor policies than ever before. Read the rest

A rapidly proliferating software license bars use by companies with poor labor practices

Katt Gu and Suji Yan's Anti 996 License allows developers to prohibit the use of their code by companies that do not adhere to basic labor practices (996 is a Chinese software industry term for shops where coders work 9AM-9PM, 6 days/week). Read the rest

"I am an Uber employee and I support the drivers’ strikes."

“The authenticity of the following anonymous op-ed has been verified by Medium’s editorial staff.” Read the rest

Kickstarter employees want to unionize under OPEIU and have formed Kickstarter United to make that happen

Kickstarter United is organizing Kickstarter employees under the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, joining other tech startups like Gimlet and Vox in a bid to unionize. Read the rest

Gimlet staff announce unionization plan following Spotify acquisition

Gimlet Media, creator of such excellent podcasts as Crimetown, Reply All, and Science Vs, was recently acquired by Spotify for $230m; in the wake of the acquisition, the staff have announced a successful unionization drive organized under the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE), which is also organizing Vox Media's team: the union will have about 80 members, drawn from the production, editorial, host, and reporting staff, but excluding managers, marketing and sales staff. Read the rest

From prisons to factories to offices: the spread of workplace surveillance and monitoring tech

A new report from Data & Society (previously) goes into depth on the ways that employers are increasingly rolling out workplace surveillance and monitoring technologies that "exert greater control over large workforces, rapidly experiment with workflows, detect deviant behavior, evaluate performance, and automate tasks." Read the rest

Leaked memo suggests that Google has not really canceled its censored, spying Chinese search tool

Last December, human rights advocates and Google employees cheered when they learned that internal dissent at Google had killed the company's secret plan to launch a search tool in China that would censor results to the specifications set out by state censors, and collect detailed histories of search activity that could be turned over to authorities hunting for dissidents. Read the rest

The FAIR Act will end forced arbitration for employment, consumer, antitrust and civil rights disputes

Forced arbitration "agreements" are how corporate America gets workers, tenants and customers to sign away their legal rights, substituting kangaroo courts where the "judge" is a lawyer paid by the corporation that abused you, and where the rules are whatever the corporation says they should be; The FAIR Act invalidates the use of arbitration to settle disputes over employment, consumer rights, antitrust and civil rights; it has 147 co-sponsors in the House and 34 in the Senate (all Democrats -- Republicans love forced arbitration!), and its only hope of passing is if Democrats nuke the filibuster rule the next time they control the House, Senate and Presidency (that is, in 2020). Read the rest

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