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Gig Companies Thrive By Evading The Law

“This isn’t a battle to turn back the clock on technology and innovation, nor is it about denying worker freedom or employer control. It is about economic justice.”

Veena Dubal, associate professor of law at University of California Hastings College of Law

How Uber and Lyft are putting passengers in danger by choosing cheaper background checks for drivers

“The background checks used by Uber and Lyft to screen potential drivers leave large loopholes for a dangerous felon to give you your next ride.”

Shelly Brown, Associate Writer at CNET’s download.com

More Than A Gig: A Survey Of Ride-Hailing Drivers In Los Angeles

“Drivers are facing financial hardship. 44% of drivers report difficulty paying for work expenses such as gas, insurance, and car maintenance. 55% of drivers would prefer to earn a set hourly wage after expenses.”

Institute For Research On Labor And Employment. UCLA Labor Center

The Taking Economy: Uber, Information, And Power

“Sharing economy firms have the ability to monitor and channel behavior of all participants and may be using this capacity to everyone’s
detriment but their own.”

Ryan Calo & Alex Rosenblat Columbia Law Review

Driving for Uber When You Can’t Afford a Car

“In South Africa, extreme inequality means that drivers have a much more difficult time turning a profit with the ride-share service. Critics,…. along with many Uber drivers, believe that Uber unfairly profits at the expense of the workers who make its service possible in South Africa.”

Kimon De Greef, The Atlantic

Disruptive Transportation:
The Adoption, Utilization, and Impacts of
Ride-Hailing in the United States

“After using ride-hailing, the average net change in transit use is a 6% reduction among
Americans in major cities 
We find that 49% to 61% of ride-hailing trips would have not been made at all, or by walking, biking, or transit.”

Institute of Transportation Studies ◦ University of California, Davis

Uber and the labor market
Uber drivers’ compensation, wages, and the scale of Uber and the gig economy

“The Uber driver W-2 equivalent hourly wage is roughly at the 10th percentile of all wage and salary workers’ wages, meaning Uber drivers earn less than what 90 percent of workers earn. The Uber driver W-2 equivalent hourly wage falls below the mandated minimum wage in the majority of major Uber urban markets (13 of 20 major markets, which include 18 cities, a county, and a state).

Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute

A fund for NYC drivers models how benefits could work in the gig economy

“When you hop in an Uber or hail a cab, your driver is most likely an independent contractor, and thus unable to receive the traditional benefits and protections that many workers receive from their employer.

Natalie Foster, advisor to the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative & David Rolf founding president of SEIU 775.

The Cost of Convenience:
Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities

“Not only does the introduction of ride-sharing seem to not reduce congestion, it actually increases the number of car registrations by 3 percent. Most importantly, Barrios et al. find that the introduction of ride-sharing increases the number of fatal accidents by 3 percent (in the aggregate, this is equivalent to 987 extra lives lost every year in the United States alone).

John M. Barrios, University of Chicago, Yael V. Hochberg, Rice University and NBER Livia Hanyi Yi, Rice University

The gig economy is being fuelled by exploitation, not innovation

“The mistake made in so much of the debate surrounding the gig economy is to assume it is a modern issue caused by digital technology. It is not. Gig economy companies succeed because of how they apply, or fail to apply, long-standing and robust employment law.

James Temperton, WIRED Opinion

Americans Are More Vulnerable Than Ever, And The Gig Economy Isn’t Helping

“The gig economy, no matter its size, is a symptom of a larger problem: Workers aren’t making enough, and have nothing else to fall back on.

Monica Putts, Talking Points Memo

Uber’s utter disrespect for social and business norms

“The problem isn’t Uber or any other ride-sharing company. The soft spot is us as users of those services. Uber et al do only what we enable them to do. And whatever their sins, they’re only a symptom, not a cause, of our social architecture shattering into micro-particles.

Peter Stockland, Cardus

Grand Theft Paycheck: The Large Corporations Shortchanging Their Workers’ Wages

“Washington, DC—A new report finds that many large corporations operating in the United States have boosted their profits by forcing employees to work off the clock, cheating them out of required overtime pay and engaging in similar practices that together are known as wage theft

Philip Mattera, Good Jobs First & Jobs With Justice Education Fund

How Silicon Valley Lobbyists Secretly Pushed Texas Regulators to Rewrite the Rules of the Gig Economy

“Documents show that lobbyists for Handy.com dictated a rule to the Texas Workforce Commission that would give legal shelter to gig economy companies who don’t want to treat workers like employees.

Justin Miller, The Texas Observer

‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers

“But a New York Times investigation found much of the devastation can be traced to a handful of powerful industry leaders who steadily and artificially drove up the price of taxi medallions, creating a bubble that eventually burst. Over more than a decade, they channeled thousands of drivers into reckless loans and extracted hundreds of millions of dollars before the market collapsed..

Brian M. Rosenthal, New York Times

The Sharing Economy Was Always a Scam

“Sharing’ was supposed to save us. Instead, it became a Trojan horse for a precarious economic future.
Sharing was supposed to transform our world for the better. Instead, the only thing we’re sharing is the mess it left behind.

Susan Cagle, onezero.medium.com

Uber and Lyft drivers reveal what they wish they knew before signing up to work for the apps

  • “Vehicle damage can add up quickly
  • Riders will take their time
  • Figuring out a schedule that works for you can be tricky
  • ‘Know your numbers’
  • Going to the restroom isn’t always easy
  • Taxes can get complicated …
  • It’s a lonely job
  • Not all riders know the rules
Graham Rapier, Business Insider

Uber Is a Scam

“As Lacy put it in an interview soon after Kalanick’s ouster, ‘The thing that’s gonna kill Uber has nothing to do with who’s at the company, has nothing to do with scandals, has nothing to do with any of this. The thing that’s gonna kill Uber is when Uber finally has to charge what it costs to get a car to you.'”

Doug Henwood, JACOBIN

Why We Fight Uber

“In many ways, this is like the fight of the Luddites (machine smashers) two hundred years ago at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. While the Luddites were fighting the way technology was used to further exploit rather than liberate workers, they were and are misrepresented as simply being afraid of and opposing technology.”

Michael Rozworski, JACOBIN

Uber’ Big Lie

“Uber’s business model isn’t based on new technology, but corporate greed and worker exploitation that has been aided and abetted by a political system that has failed to hold the company accountable to basic employment standards”

Chris Brooks, staff writer at Labor Notes

Uber and the False Hopes of the Sharing Economy

“While Uber promotes itself as a way for drivers to earn extra money to fund their dreams, in truth, most drivers in New York City work full time”

Ginia Bellafante, reporter, critic and columnist for the New York Times

Uber State Interference: How TNC’s Buy, Bully, And Bamboozle Their Way To Deregulation

“TNCs have successfully adopted state interference, an antidemocratic legislative practice favored by the gun and tobacco industries and popularized by the ultraconservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), in order to rewrite the law.”

Rebecca Smith, National Employment Law Project

Towards A Fairer Gig Economy

“Instead, the great marketing hype of new corporations in the ‘gig economy’ masks many new ways in which they exploit their employees. This is a great concern for the future of society, and especially for the well-being of us all as workers.”

Mark Graham & Joe Shaw

Uber drivers in Cape Town: Working conditions and worker
agency in the sharing economy

“Following this, the platforms dependency of network effects also affected drivers work, by
constructing the app in favour for riders over drivers. This forced drivers to adapt their work to
the demands of riders, constantly chasing good ratings and enduring racist and unpleasant
riders. “

A Thesis By Ine Geitung

Uber can’t be ethical – its business model won’t allow it

“Figuring that Uber’s app explains its growth is like putting the birthday cake’s appeal down to the candle on top. The engine of Uber’s growth to date has been the US$11.5 billion it has raised from banks and investors. “

Senior Research Fellow, University of Nottingham

Empty Seats, Full Streets
Fixing Manhattan’s Traffic Problem

“While hours spent transporting passengers showed a large
increase, unoccupied hours grew even more quickly. Taxis
spent 34,000 unoccupied hours in the CBD in 2013, decreasing
to 29,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, TNCs added 37,000 unoccupied
vehicle hours. “

Bruce Schaller Schaller Consulting

Labour’s gig economy fix shows why Uber and Deliveroo could be great news for workers’ rights

“Fix Uber, and you might just fix the whole taxi industry. This is a sentiment that rings true for the whole gig economy: for critics of the sector, the perceived worker exploitation is nothing new. What is new is that there’s finally an opportunity, and political will, to do something about it.”

James Temperton, WIRED

Uber as For-Profit Hiring Hall: A Price-Fixing Paradox and its Implications

“The point of this paper is that even if Uber is not legally the
employer of Uber drivers, Uber drivers ought to be permitted to engage in
price coordination so long as Uber is permitted to set prices.”

Sanjukta Paul, BERKELEY JOURNAL OF EMPLOYMENT & LABOR LAW 

How Much Does an Uber Driver Make in 2018? [The Inside Scoop]

“Many of these rates are below minimum wage, especially after you factor in car costs and other driving-related expenses. It’s a pretty good bet they spend more than $0.34 in gasoline per hour. They also have wear and tear and depreciation on their cars that will eat substantially into their hourly earnings. In fact, at these rates, I would bet they’re not making any money at all, they are probably losing money every hour they drive.”

Staff: Ridester.com

A Catch-22 debt trap for Ola, Uber cab drivers

“I had to pay my cab EMI of ₹10,000 today, but the cheque has bounced as there were insufficient funds in my account. This is all because the company has reduced the per-kilometre fare paid to us and my cab is off-road the past week”

Kailash Korde, Hindustan Times

Uber’s Arbitration Policy Comes Back to Bite It in the Ass

“Over 12,000 Uber drivers found a way to weaponize the ridesharing platform’s restrictive contract in what’s possibly the funniest labor strategy of the year.”

Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo

Digital Labour Platforms And The Future Of Work

“How do the workers fare?
■ The ILO survey finds that on average across the five platforms, in 2017, a worker
earned US$4.43 per hour when only paid work was considered, and US$3.31 per
hour when total paid and unpaid hours were considered.
■ Median earnings were lower, at just US$2.16 per hour when paid and unpaid work
were considered.
■ Nearly two-thirds of American workers surveyed on the Amazon Mechanical Turk
platform earned less than the federal minimum wage of US$7.25 per hour; only 7
per cent of German workers surveyed on the Clickworker platform reported earnings
above the German minimum wage of €8.84 per hour, taking into consideration paid
and unpaid hours of work.”

Janine Berg * Marianne Furrer * Ellie Harmon * Uma Rani * M Six Silberman The International Labor Organization

The Future of Workplace Regulation
Series Of Essays

Ratcheting Up Workplace Protection April 1, 2019 | David Weil, Brandeis University

The Joint-Employment Standard in Limbo April 2, 2019 | Moshe Z. Marvit, The Century Foundation

Labor without Employment April 3, 2019 | Alexander Kondo, U.S. Department of Labor, and Abraham Singer, Loyola University Chicago

Regulating Non-Compete Agreements April 4, 2019 | Najah A. Farley, National Employment Law Project

The Future Looks Bright for the Right-to-Work Movement April 5, 2019 | Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr., National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

Regulating Work in an Age of Fissuring and Automation April 8, 2019 | Cynthia Estlund, New York University

Who Are Gig Economy Workers?April 9, 2019 | Deepa Das Acevedo, University of Alabama

Is the Fiduciary Rule Dead? April 10, 2019 | Gregory F. Jacob, O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Conflicting Interpretations of Worker Classification April 11, 2019 | Sean Burke, University of Pennsylvania”

Penn Program on Regulation
University of Pennsylvania Law School

Uber and the labor market:
Uber drivers’ compensation, wages, and the scale of Uber and the gig economy

“There has been much hype around Uber and the gig
economy. But in our assessment, in any conference on the
future of work, Uber and the gig economy deserve at most
a workshop, not a plenary.”

Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute

It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs

“But for the vast majority of workers, the “freedom” of the gig economy is just the freedom to be afraid. It is the severing of obligations between businesses and employees. It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine.”

Louis Hyman, Economic Historian and opinion writer New York Times

Subsidising Billionaires – Simulating the Net Incomes of UberX Drivers in Australia

“The implicit wage subsidy paid to Uber by its drivers, in the form of below-minimumwage
labour, is large relative to the overall fares and margins generated in this
business. It is equivalent to a subsidy paid to Uber (and ultimately its owners) by its
Australian drivers, that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year. “

Jim Stanford, Ph.D.
Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute

Disrupting Democracy
How Uber Deploys Corporate Power to Overwhelm and Undermine Local Government

“No single company or interest should have the power to use its wealth the way Uber does, overwhelming democracy’s deliberative and decision-making processes.”

Public Citizen

Uber And Arbitration: A lethal Combination

“The recently settled Uber litigation in California illustrates how under current law arbitration effectively extinguishes important worker rights.”

Katherine V. W. Stone, Economic Policy Institute

UNSUSTAINABLE?
The Growth of App-Based Ride Services and
Traffic, Travel and the Future of New York City

“A continuation of TNC-led growth in travel is not a sustainable
way to grow the city. Adding TNC mileage to already congested
streets will lead to mounting costs for businesses
and consumers from increasing traffic delay and hinder
progress toward the City’s goals for mobility, economic growth
and the environment. ”

Bruce Schaller, Principal of Schaller Consulting

Beyond Disruption
How Tech Shapes Labor Across Domestic Work & Ridehailing

” As a result, we have shown that labor platforms create uneasy
trade-offs for workers, placing new pressures on them in ways that can
be harmful, while also providing them with avenues for appealing to weak
forms of accountability that may not have existed otherwise in informal
work arrangements. Platform policies and practices that create conveniences
for consumers may end up amplifying worker vulnerabilities.”

Julia Ticona, Alexandra Mateescu, Alex Rosenblat –  Data & Society

Disrupting Work Law: Arbitration in the Gig Economy

“The gig economy offers an important opportunity to grapple with the effects of IACs on workers’ and consumers’ low-value claims. So far, the results are troubling: while it is too early to say what is happening to drivers who pursue arbitration, it is apparent that IACs are impeding the development of answers to questions about drivers’ employment status, and significantly reducing the value of workers’ claims in litigation.”

‘Gig’ economy may not be the way of the future after all

“Research by Uber’s chief economist, Jonathan Hall, and John Horton of New York University found that when Uber raised its fares, drivers initially earned more money. But there were offsetting effects: The higher rates attracted more drivers while reducing the number of trips consumers made. Overall earnings for drivers soon fell back to their previous levels.”

The meteoric rise of Uber and Lyft may have spurred a deadly outcome, according to new research

“The arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents…”

Canadian court slams Uber’s arbitration process

“….Ontario’s highest court ruled (Uber’s) process for arbitrating disputes were not only unlawful but “unconscionable…..Uber was improperly forcing its drivers in the province to resolve complaints about pay or other work issues through an international mediation process in the Netherlands. Drivers disputing even small complaints face a steep cost of $14,500 (U.S.) to initiate the process…

JACQUIE MCNISH, The Wall Street Journal

Opinion | Ola, Uber drivers’ strike exposes the legal gaps in the aggregator business model

“Considering the frequency of strikes, the legal ramification may only be to appreciate the legitimacy of drivers’ struggles and giving them their due recognition as a ‘worker’ under the law”

RIGHTS AT RISK: GIG COMPANIES’ CAMPAIGN TO UPEND EMPLOYMENT AS WE KNOW IT

“Ride-hailing giant Uber and aspiring “Uber of home services” Handy, along with other tech-companies-cum-service-providers, have been conspiring with powerful corporate allies and lobbyists on a far-reaching, multi-million-dollar influence campaign to rewrite worker classification standards for their own benefit—and to workers’ detriment. Their goal: to pass policies that lock so-called “gig” workers who find jobs via online platforms into independent contractor status, stripping them of the basic labor rights and protections afforded to employees and allowing the companies to evade payroll taxes and worker lawsuits.”

The recession hasn’t ended for gig economy workers

“..the Federal Reserve’s latest report on economic wellbeing in the US. The report, which was released last week [May 21, 2019], found that in 2018, workers who supported themselves through the gig economy struggled financially far more than the average person.”

HARDWIRE GIG WORKERS’ RIGHTS INTO LAW. IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE THE AMERICAN DREAM

“While ride share companies say they want to do better than the status quo, they continue to fight against this path for gig workers, claiming AB5 would hurt their profitability and cause us to lose the flexibility we love in our jobs. This is a false premise and a false choice.”

Uber’s Path of Destruction

“But Uber’s demonstrated ability to use raw economic power on an unprecedented scale makes the risks to society even worse….

Uber, meanwhile, is unique because it is entirely exploitive. It has not created any sustainable offsetting benefits. The private wealth it has created comes entirely at the expense of the rest of society.”

The City Is Ours, Not Uber’s

“Beyond its impact on workers, Uber has made our cities worse places to live. The company has decreased urban public transit usage and even produced a sharp rise in US traffic deaths. And Uber has vastly increased congestion. Last year in NYC, rideshare companies added 85,000 cars per month completing 700,000 trips a day to the city’s streets. If we assume an average of five miles per trip, using EPA metrics, then rideshare companies added 516,110 metric tons of CO2 to NYC’s air — the equivalent pollution of 406,066 flights from NYC to San Francisco.”

Editorial: Hop a New York ride, Chicago, and demand a better deal for Uber drivers

“Our city and nation don’t need another gig-economy industry that makes a small percentage of top executives and investors extraordinarily wealthy by exploiting the labor of ordinary workers.”

The Editorial Board of the Chicago Sun-Times

How the Gig Economy Profits Off of Desperation

“So if the gig economy is characterized by low pay, a lack of benefits, and a predatory relationship where the business risks are burdened by the worker, why aren’t workers abandoning it? Simple: they have no other options. The gig economy isn’t about helping people who are being left behind; it’s about exploiting them because they have to accept whatever work they can find.”

Paris Marx, The Bold Italic

Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber

“On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.”

Susan J. Fowler, Blog

The Myth of the Sharing Economy and Its Implications for Regulating Innovation

“States and communities have struggled to protect consumers through regulation of ride-sharing and short-term rental companies such as Uber and Airbnb, because these businesses have successfully used rhetoric and their users to perpetuate a “myth” that their mission is primarily altruistic.”

Amy Stemler, Emory Law Journal

THE NEW AUTOMOBILITY: LYFT, UBER AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN CITIES

“Private ride TNC services (UberX, Lyft) put 2.8 new TNC
vehicle miles on the road for each mile of personal driving
removed, for an overall 180 percent increase in driving on
city streets
.”

Bruce Schaller, Principal of Schaller Consulting

Sweated Labor: Uber And The Gig Economy

“We fear that, until such proposals are set in train, a growing number of people in this country will find themselves being subjected to ‘sweated labour’ – toiling through anxiety and insecurity, for unsafe lengths of time across seven days a week, in return for poverty pay.”

Frank Field & Andrew Forsey, Members Of UK Parliament

Will the Growth of Uber Increase Economic Welfare?

“This paper lays out the economic evidence showing that Uber has no ability — now or in the foreseeable future — to earn sustainable profits in a competitive marketplace. The growth of Uber is entirely explained by massive predatory subsidies that have totally undermined the normal workings of both capital and labor markets. “

Hubert Horan

The Online Platform Economy in 2018
Drivers, Workers, Sellers, and Lessors

“The growth in the supply of drivers has come alongside a 53 percent decline
in transportation earnings.

J P Morgan Chase & Company Institute

Uber Driver Lawsuit Shows How A Lack Of Power Enables Income Inequality

” Employees — or contractors — found themselves in a difficult position. They are expected to sign documents giving an employer broad protection when it often is impossible to tell in advance how bad things might be in a systemic way at a company. You only learn when it’s too late.

Erik Sherman, Contributor Forbes

Study: Uber and Lyft may be making traffic worse in the Denver metro area

” He found ride-hailing accounts for an 83 percent increase in the miles cars travel in the metro. Henao said a combined 34 percent of his passengers would have taken transit, walked or bicycled if ride-hailing didn’t exist.

 University of Colorado Denver Ph.D. graduate Alejandro Henao.

10 Reasons Why the Gig Economy is Broken

” One way or another the free market has found a convenient feedback loop where both the consumer and labor are taken advantage of by the gig economy.

Jack’s Raging Bile Duct, RHYD

Breakingviews – Hadas: Six economic reasons to hate Uber

” The second group of economists who should dislike Uber are specialists in labour markets. They know that the standard early industrial practice of pushing down wages as far as possible is bad, for the affected workers and for the whole economy. Uber, however, has not learned the lesson. Its drivers get a rough deal.

Edward Hadas, Financial Columnist

Gig-Economy Workers Are the Modern Proletariat

“The so-called “future of labor” looks like a relic from from Marx’s time.”

Uber’s Policies Put Consumers At Risk

“Uber misleading its customers is not only unethical but also unsafe — users of this service need to be made aware of the potential dangers.

Annie Diaz, The Signal

The gig economy is quietly undermining a century of worker protections

” ….It’s also because, besides its much-touted “flexibility,” the gig economy isn’t much of a place to build a career. Instead, over the course of less than a decade, the self-described “tech companies” that connect people to gig work have managed to erode hard-fought labor protections in place for a century.

Ephrat Levni, QUARTZ

Are Lyft, Uber, WeWork And Bird The Next Shooting Stars?

“Uber raced to global market share leadership in the rideshare sector on the strength of over $9 billion of investment from Softbank’s Vision Fund. But its hyper-growth strategy was based on six critical assumptions that have all proved to be false or yet to be proven.

Len Sherman, Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School

An Earnings Standard for New York
City’s App-based Drivers:
July 2018
Economic Analysis and Policy Assessment

“We find that a majority of the city’s FHV
drivers work full-time and that 85 percent make less than the proposed pay standard.
Hourly pay is low in large part because the industry depends upon a ready availability
of idle drivers to minimize passenger wait times.

James A. Parrott and Michael Reich
Report for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission

Cash This Check for $250, and Sign Away Your Right to Sue

“The technique, which has been used selectively by companies in other industries, may prove to be particularly effective in the gig economy, where workers lack financial stability, said Bryan Schwartz, a Bay Area attorney who’s not involved in the case. It’s an “insidious” move, he said, because recipients likely can’t afford to seek legal counsel and weigh the benefits of holding out for a potentially larger payout from a lawsuit. “Low-wage workers, who are trying to make ends meet, are especially vulnerable,” said Schwartz, who serves on the board of the California Employment Lawyers Association, a worker advocacy group. “They’re going to sign and take the pittance to waive all their claims.”