There are some people out there who only want to drive for companies like GrubHub, but most of the drivers are people who already have jobs and are using the gig as supplementary income.
The topic has come up before in these communities about whether they want to be employees or contractors. At the end of the day, most people want to stay contractors because they already have other jobs and want to make some extra cash during their off hours and weekends, and being an employee would actually mean being their GrubHub's bitch because then they could be told that they can't refuse to pick up orders that are too far away.
While I do see the argument that businesses shouldn't be using contractors as a replacement for employees, unless we solve the problem of stagnating wages, doing so will take away a lot of needed extra income from people who don't feel wronged by these companies.
The reality is that the contractor part of this is to hide them(GrubHub) from the risk involved. That's what no one understands here. Bicycle messengers were notoriously the original "gig economy" job. The reason no one wanted to make them employees is that they would then be responsible for workers compensation when they got in an accident.
This is the same as GrubHub. You were lucky. You did not get in an accident. Someone else working for GrubHub somewhere else in the country probably did. And they very likely had very expensive medical expenses. Workers compensation also covers permanent long term disability payments if someone is injured and can no longer work. This can be millions of dollars.
When anyone does the math with these gig jobs, they leave out risk. That's the difference. GrubHub is pushing the risk of long term disability, and other things like unemployment due to business slowdown, entirely onto you. As well as other risks they are free from if you are not an employee.
I think you are missing a large part of it. The "gig" economy is "on-demand" labor. There is no schedule to coordinate at the "worker level". Just a network of demand and a worker pool that grows and shrinks to meet demand.
"Oh, I'm free for the next 3 hours, maybe I'll make some money"
"I need to let my boss know I'm not coming in tomorrow so we have coverage"
That marketplace effect is "freedom".
Most companies don't let their employees work such flexible hours, but there's no reason why they couldn't.
Yes there is. Workers compensation insurance and other benefits have significant fixed costs per employee. If someone is treated as an employee, they'll be required to work a minimum number of hours to cover those costs.
In many states regulations prevent customizing employee insurance packages to that extent. There are cookie cutter obligations that employers have to meet regardless of the hours an employee works.
Gig economy jobs get around the inefficiencies imposed by labor regulations.
It's not unusual for some departments (like HR) to operate at a loss, with the costs covered by other parts of the business, or for one product to be a loss leader that guides customers to more profitable products and services.
In any case, the problem of covering those costs doesn't go away by making the employee a contractor, but it pushes the cost off to the worker.
it is a unit cost, not a fixed cost.
It's generally quite the opposite. It's employer regulations hiding the cost of insurance from you. There is nothing stopping you as an individual from buying disability or unemployment insurance.
But insurance typically has a negative expected value. With perfect efficiency the expected value is zero; probability of claim times payout from receiving claim equals average premium. Then you add the costs of administration and insurance fraud and it goes into the red. Whether the peace of mind from having the insurance is worth that cost to you is your own decision.
Requiring employers to provide it does two things. The first is that it hides the cost from you. The employer is a corporation and corporations don't really pay for anything, employees, customers and investors do. It'd be nice to think the investors are paying for it, but the kind of employers who hire unskilled workers are typically not in high margin industries. In practice it's generally going to be the workers and customers. And then people ask for more and more things like that, thinking someone else is paying for it when it's really still them.
Which leads to the second problem, which is that when it's required you can't decline it. If some double digit percentage of the people on unemployment are committing insurance fraud, you may be better off to just put the money you would have paid in premiums into a brokerage account to rely on if you lose your job, but you no longer have that option. You no longer even realize its cost, because you never receive a bill for unjustifiably high insurance premiums, you just get paid that much less or pay more when you buy stuff.
I'm talking to an individual. Please refer the comment I was replying to. I'm not trying to make generalized ideological debates about the gig economy or taxation or any other of the typically religious arguments people shout at each other about online.
To an _individual_ it is important for them to realize that they need to account for the risk involved in what they are doing. If you drive for a company as an employee and get injured and can never work again, you will receive payments from them for the rest of your life. If you do it as a contractor you will be disabled and at best be able to receive the very limited US government disability which would force you to live in poverty. Remember, driving all day is one of the most dangerous types of professions. And absolutely no, you cannot get an individual workers compensation policy because it would cost more money than the income from the gig. Its absurd you would think that exists.
Please do not go into online forums and just shoot idealism everywhere. We get it, you hate big government and taxation is theft. We've all heard it 10 million times. Unless it has a unique connection to the topic being discussed, you are just derailing the conversation.
You value security and loyalty, because that's what your generation was raised with.
My generation has no delusions of job security. It does not and will not exist in our future. We value independence and freedom, and the opportunity to pursue our careers.
I've done contract work my entire life and wouldn't have it any other way. I do not want to be tied to a company. I earn much, much work working independently.
My insurance is my savings account. My insurance is my adaptability. My insurance is my skillset.
Your reply indicates that you think that has something to do with idealism, and it doesn't. We want to do work, get paid for it, and fuck off to the next thing.
You don't have to agree with it, just don't participate in it if you don't. But don't try to get in the way of other people doing what they want because you don't understand it.
It's not realistic. It's not scalable to all people. It's survivalistic. You will get tired. You will get sick. You might have a family. You will affect others. You will die one day.
Your skill set won't save you. Your adaptability won't save you. Your material possessions won't save you. And your savings might not be able to even save you.
You will live in a community and by extension affect one. It is a fool's game to act as if youth and health are infinite.
We can have work freedom, that's fine. But without a community, a caring society, a caring government, something to back us up. When the work is gone and we are sick, distressed, and at out most helpless we will have nothing but our hopeful savings to help us. And honestly that's naive to think is a enough imo.
How could you possibly know that much about the person you're responding to? He only state he's "older", but didn't say which country, city, religion etc. Even if he did so, it wouldn't say much.
I know people in their 60s that believe in may things you stated, and others in their 20s who disagree with you about everything you said (and I mean high income young software engineers, not someone in need of state help).
Also, it's just my personal opinion from now on:
Don't reason in such absolute ways, everything is much more complex than "your generation" and "my generation" could possibly convey, and even inside a specific age/region/education/income group, the way people think and act varies wildly (and they are probably all both right and wrong depending on subject).
Don't put so much trust on your adaptability and skillset, you never know how the world will change and how you will react to it. I really hope it will just get better, be you never know. I'm only 39yo and saw quite a few highly skilled people go down because of unexpected physical/mental health issues.
Anyway, please don't take it as me trying to "prove you wrong". Well, as humans we almost always do a little of it, but it seems to em I used to think like you at some point and it brought me quite some pain. Maybe I'm misinterpreting you and am just an idiot, but I felt like writing.
Have a great week!
contract work is just great
I was replying to an individual. And then someone decided to add a reply to my comment with typical internet free market talking points. I was not discussing these debated to death boring religious debates about government and taxation. I was talking to an individual. Please refer to the comment I was originally replying to for context.
For an individual, the loss of worker compensation is a very very significant thing to consider. Driving is a very dangerous job. Most police officer deaths each year are from automobile accidents. Whether they should make that choice, or if a society should allow it, was absolutely nowhere in any way at all in my comment. Please reread my comment as it appears you seem to have missed that.
If you want to rehash the same typical talking points we've all heard 10,000 times, please do it in a different thread. I have a very difficult time seeing how repeating things that have been said so many times does anything but waste all of our time here.
Believing that markets work according to principles like the law of supply and demand is as ideological as believing that vaccines reduce population wide mortality.
It is a temporary thing that happens to any generation at a certain age range.
You are in a discussion attached to an article about a piece of proposed legislation. It was a policy discussion from the start.
> To an _individual_ it is important for them to realize that they need to account for the risk involved in what they are doing.
That is true, but is it novel information that nobody is aware of? That seems to be the standard you want to apply.
> And absolutely no, you cannot get an individual workers compensation policy because it would cost more money than the income from the gig. Its absurd you would think that exists.
Disability insurance is typically 1-3% of your income because the payout in the event of a claim is proportional to your income. For the low income in most of these professions that comes to somewhere around $50/month. They may decide it isn't worth that much, but there is no basis to the idea that it would cost more than their overall compensation.
> Please do not go into online forums and just shoot idealism everywhere.
This feels like a double standard that in practice just means that you would prefer it if people with contrary opinions to yours would shut up.
No. Those opinions on either side of the debate have been done to absolute death online. I can't imagine a single person you could find on this forum that could not list for you the common talking points(for and against) government taxation and regulation. That is what these comments are about. Not detailed, unique, and specific insight into this particular situation. Just mindless regurgitation of the same stuff we've all heard way more times than is needed.
> That is true, but is it novel information that nobody is aware of? That seems to be the standard you want to apply.
Most people I talk to about workers compensation do not realize how different the outcomes are for them between contractor and employee. The most common ones people are aware of is that they have to pay both sides of their social security. Unemployment insurance is also something that some people do not realize. During that last economic slowdown, the US government extended unemployment benefits for years to millions of US workers. Contractors will not be eligible for any of that assistance in the next economic downturn.
See how that information is relevant and specific to the original comment(not article) I was responding to? They discussed how they did not see many downsides with being a gig worker. I was bringing up a couple, especially workers compensation because of how dangerous driving jobs are.
I never said GrubHub should or should not provide that. I certainly never mentioned if the US government should do anything. I would recommend that you please go back to my original comment and the comment I was replying to originally for more information and context.
It is the misfortune of large online discussion forums that between filter bubbles and user churn, there are always people who actually haven't heard those arguments before. And the longer we avoid rehashing old arguments, the more people around who haven't heard them yet.
So it's never very long before we have the same arguments again and again. Except that they're not the same, because it's different people around each time. You may say the same thing you've said before but they're hearing it for the first time. Then maybe they give you a different response than you've ever heard before, and one or the other person is convinced. At least that's the idea.
What's the alternative? Stop discussing things that are still happening and affecting people, because some different people discussed them last year?
> During that last economic slowdown, the US government extended unemployment benefits for years to millions of US workers. Contractors will not be eligible for any of that assistance in the next economic downturn.
But that's policy. Maybe we should get rid of the distinction entirely, make everyone contractors, but then have taxpayer-funded unemployment compensation for everybody. Maybe we shouldn't have unemployment compensation at all and instead have a UBI.
Even if you're only making decisions as an individual, the possibility of those kinds of policy changes happening by the time it becomes relevant to you may be something you want to consider when making your decision.
Discussing government regulation and taxation may have been discussed by every single human being on the planet at this point(joking). It's absolutely worn out. There are likely fewer topics(especially around HN) that are more overused at this point.
If you seriously have something new and different to add, I am all ears. And I would say that is a good time to bring it up again. But all of the comments I have read in this thread have exactly the same stuff.
People should be free to decide what to do with their money and the government should stay out of the way because people understand their lives better and governments can be corrupt.
Governments should impose restrictions and fees as society as a whole will be effected by certain actions of individuals and governments have a responsibility to look out for the people's best interest.
It's been done to absolute death dude. Its the same points, over and over and over and over again. We all have heard all of this 10,000 times.
Speak for yourself "dude". I, for one, find these discussions to be valuable. If you don't like them or are fed up with them, then don't partake. Even if you aren't in a position to change your mind, spectators like me are.
> Other side: Governments should impose restrictions and fees as society as a whole will be effected by certain actions of individuals and governments have a responsibility to look out for the people's best interest.
I feel like people are always talking past each other. In general what happens is that the policies enacted by Democrats and Republicans are both crap but in different ways, and then both sides argue for their ideal that their party doesn't actually uphold but against the other side's actual results which are in both cases terrible.
So they're both right. Markets are more efficient than governments but we don't want people starving in the streets. The Republicans' policies are terrible in practice and the Democrats' policies are terrible in practice. What now?
I tend to think the answer is a UBI, but the difficulty is in getting it passed. The right-wing objection is obvious; it's the purest incarnation of redistribution of wealth. But we already have such policies and replacing them with an equally-redistributive UBI is probably an easier sell than it is on the left, because it would evaporate their world. Unemployment insurance, disability, social security? Redundant, not required. Minimum wage? Food stamps? Housing subsidies? Same. Progressive income tax? Don't need it, flat tax plus UBI results in negative effective rates for low income people and low effective rates for middle income people.
So "employee benefits"? Bad policy, let's get rid of them all and do a UBI instead. Which is the right policy precisely because it would dismantle a century of accumulated inefficient bureaucracy -- but that very fact makes it hard to enact.
So in the meantime I end up arguing against all of this other stuff, as just more to repeal when we finally get the votes to do it properly, and more institutional inertia that makes it harder to get where we ought to be.
But I sometimes lean on the traditional arguments because, ironically, I'm less tired of those than having the same "does a UBI cause inflation" "not really but if it did that's what we need right now anyway" discussion for the hundredth time.
You are completely derailing the conversation with common discussions that have been had tens of thousands of times all over the internet. The information exists in excessive quantities for anyone to find.
Wouldn't it be better use of time to go find a discussion specifically about what you are talking about? There is a reason no one is upvoting stories about this stuff here. I imagine most people here don't find it as interesting because we've read this exact stuff so many times.
It is a policy proposal that allows them to do so without suffering the risks you identified. If they like to be an independent contractor but don't like those risks, they should ask the government for a UBI rather than a law requiring them to be reclassified as an employee, which then mitigates those risks without requiring them to indirectly overpay for unemployment insurance that suffers from an insurance fraud problem that a UBI doesn't (among other advantages).
> Wouldn't it be better use of time to go find a discussion specifically about what you are talking about?
Based on their comment, the person there was apparently not aware of the details of the discussions that have been had about this numerous times by other people. Which is fine -- many people really are only having these discussions for the first time. There is nothing wrong with that.
But why do you assume that no one reading this thread has never been exposed to this information before? Some people have, but no one requires that they participate in a similar discussion again.
It's not as if we're on a totally irrelevant tangent here. The fact that some people have discussed it in the past doesn't reduce its relevance as a policy alternative.
Okay, you're obviously a troll. I fell for it. Lesson learned. I'm going to disengage. Got me, nice work.
In my opinion anyway the individual perspective is a moot point. Unless there's some serious shortage of access to information the main consideration should be the benefit to society as a whole and not just a single company. How much more stable will a business and its impact on commerce be if it does provide reduced-premium insurance is the more important question to ask.
This is one of those cases where you're just abstracting things away from the issue at hand to justify your position, which hides nonsense like this because you're talking theoretically rather than concretely. But if we look at the actual companies targeted, no, GrubHub, Uber, DoorDash et al are NOT low-margin industries. With worldwide services like this where your costs per-unit are basically only server costs, the margins are extremely high because your costs approach zero as users increase. The costs these companies incur are mostly money they reinvest into business development.
For example, Uber taking a loss on rides should be seen as reinvestment into the business (trying to undercut competitors and drive them out of business) rather than a result of the fixed costs of a ride.
> You no longer even realize its cost, because you never receive a bill for unjustifiably high insurance premiums, you just get paid that much less or pay more when you buy stuff.
You don't think employees notice when they are paid less? You don't think customers realize when they pay more? If you really want to make the claim that employees don't notice lower pay and customers don't notice higher prices, that's tantamount to admitting that the free market doesn't work.
Yes, obviously investors will pass the cost off to employees and customers, but if they pay an unjustifiably high insurance premium and try to pass that cost off, they open up a business opportunity for a competitor to pay employees better and/or charge customers less by buying cheaper insurance and passing off less of that cost. There are additionally some regulations in place that prevent employers from passing off too much of the cost to employees or customers (i.e. minimum wage or fixed taxi fares).
The advantage that a big company has is that when they shop around for insurance, they're much more likely to be able to get a good price than an individual because they're a large, valuable customer.
The dominant unit cost by far is paying the drivers, which doesn't go down with scale. Then you get a bunch of other stuff like credit card processing fees and customer service that also doesn't scale much if any better with volume either.
The server cost is barely a unit cost at all. That's fixed cost. Though it still needs to be paid from something.
> You don't think employees notice when they are paid less? You don't think customers realize when they pay more? If you really want to make the claim that employees don't notice lower pay and customers don't notice higher prices, that's tantamount to admitting that the free market doesn't work.
They notice how much they're paying and being paid, but they lack the information to know how much they would be paying or being paid in the alternative. So they think they're getting "free" insurance when they're really getting insurance instead of a cost of living increase.
> Yes, obviously investors will pass the cost off to employees and customers, but if they pay an unjustifiably high insurance premium and try to pass that cost off, they open up a business opportunity for a competitor to pay employees better and/or charge customers less by buying cheaper insurance and passing off less of that cost.
You're assuming that the problem is caused by which insurance company the employer chooses and not that it is difficult to accurately detect insurance fraud without using invasive methods, so all the insurance companies charge rates that exceed the value of the insurance and the companies only buy it at that price because it's required by law.
> There are additionally some regulations in place that prevent employers from passing off too much of the cost to employees or customers (i.e. minimum wage or fixed taxi fares).
There are two options here. One is that the money comes from somewhere. The other is that it doesn't, the cost of the service now exceeds its value, and you lose your job.
> The advantage that a big company has is that when they shop around for insurance, they're much more likely to be able to get a good price than an individual because they're a large, valuable customer.
Insurance companies compete aggressively on price for all customers. Historically larger buyers had a slight advantage because they could get a discount to account for the lower per-customer acquisition cost of getting many customers at once, but now that insurance is a thing that you buy from a website after comparing prices on the internet, even that is becoming an increasingly negligible advantage.
Meanwhile if you buy it yourself you get to choose the policy that you want rather than whatever your employer stuck you with.
When I lived in NYC, I talked to a lot of Uber drivers and cab drivers. Many Uber drivers are cab drivers and have been cab drivers. They're quite capable of making the comparison.
> You're assuming that the problem is caused by which insurance company the employer chooses and not that it is difficult to accurately detect insurance fraud without using invasive methods, so all the insurance companies charge rates that exceed the value of the insurance and the companies only buy it at that price because it's required by law.
No, I'm simply ignoring the possibility you're bringing up, because it's no less a problem for individuals buying their own insurance. This is just a red herring.
> There are two options here. One is that the money comes from somewhere. The other is that it doesn't, the cost of the service now exceeds its value, and you lose your job.
But we already know the answer to that. The cost of the service doesn't exceed its value because people payed for taxis for decades before Uber (and in fact, they paid a lot more than the insurance, since medallions were a humongous additional cost).
> Insurance companies compete aggressively on price for all customers. Historically larger buyers had a slight advantage because they could get a discount to account for the lower per-customer acquisition cost of getting many customers at once, but now that insurance is a thing that you buy from a website after comparing prices on the internet, even that is becoming an increasingly negligible advantage.
Alternative hypothesis: insurance companies compete aggressively on advertising for individual customers, which allows them to overcharge because the average person doesn't have the time to find cheaper alternatives. Larger customers can devote more resources to researching so competition is actually more based on price.
> Meanwhile if you buy it yourself you get to choose the policy that you want rather than whatever your employer stuck you with.
Which seems to be very okay with the drivers.
Only if you ignore externalities, like uninsured permanently disabled people begging on the streets or starving to death.
What you're getting at is that there is a reason people buy insurance anyway -- the peace of mind that that won't happen to you, as I mentioned. Because a million dollars in claims money even if you have to multiply it by the only 2% probability of that happening is worth more to you than the $20,000 in guaranteed premiums you'll have to pay over your life, because if the claim actually happens you need the money more. The value of the same dollar is higher to you then, which you can predict from the beginning and account for.
But that value still has to be balanced against the losses to administration and fraud, and balanced against what you need the money for today. If losing $100/month to premiums causes you to starve now, it doesn't matter that there is a 2% chance that you starve in ten years from now. If the majority of insurance claims are fraudulent, the higher value of the money in case you have a legitimate claim may no longer exceed the losses from buying the insurance.
It's possible that buying insurance makes sense. It's possible that it doesn't. But people should be able to make that choice for themselves instead of having it imposed on them.
It is an externality. Maybe you don't mind having the streets of your town full of homeless people, but I do. In fact, I mind it very much. When someone ends up on the street, that makes my life less pleasant even though I'm not the one who was uninsured.
The person taking the brunt of the hardship is clearly the person suffering it and not the person with the misfortune of having to observe them, and they also have the best incentive to take steps to prevent that from happening. Forcing choices on them doesn't fix it. Maybe it makes it so you don't have to look at them, but if the net result is sufficiently worse that they wouldn't have chosen it given the choice, you're not actually helping them, you're just making the suffering less visible.
Of course that is true. That doesn't mean that the cost imposed on others is zero.
It's never zero. But you're making it out to be a significant cost relative to the effect on the person making the decision. Having a way to internalize the cost of others' displeasure at being aware of their possible misfortune wouldn't materially affect their decision one way or the other, because it's so much smaller a factor than the possible misfortune to begin with.
But you're making a fine argument for charity. If a thousand people don't want to see a person go homeless, it doesn't take much from each of them to make it so they don't have to.
And if 1000 is not a big enough number to make you think twice, then make it 10,000. Or 100,000. (The number of homeless in the U.S. is considerably larger than that BTW.)
You're comparing the entire US homeless population to one person. The actual ratio is less than one in five hundred.
That doesn't make the cost of feeding people who can't afford food any less of an externality.
That doesn’t work if you lose your job after a short amount of time.
Why is unemployed casual employee better than employeed contractor for you? Because its definitely not for the gigers: if it were, only 1 of the gig companies has to offer the contract, take that into account into the pay they give the employees (or substitutes like insurance) and then they would get all the workers.
There are definite market failures, but the vast majority of denouncing of market failures are people not understanding the market has made a good decision.
We should have either a heavily government-subsidized user-pay system like Japan, or a real open market without the absurd straitjacket or US healthcare market regulations. With needs-based welfare in both cases.
If the medical part of the economy wasn't so ridiculously wrongly regulated, it wouldn't be so distorting the rather academic difference between "contractor" and "employee".
The primary reasons appear to be the giant tax subsidy for employer plans and the fact that insurers aggressively discriminate against people who don’t have employer plans.
Also what subsidy are you referring to?
Could you cite some data?
The subsidy is the fact that employer contributions to health insurance are not taxed. Here’s an estimate that this costs about $280 billion/year. This is more than Elizabeth Warren’s tax!
If they ever lose/leave their job and try to get COBRA the sticker shock is intense. At that point it’s almost always better to get a Marketplace plan if you can, because the subsidized price will be much lower, if not even the unsubsidized price.
The exclusion from income of health insurance premium payments is the largest tax break on the books;
“According to a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis for 2007, the average savings for tax filers with incomes less than $30,000 was about $1,650 compared to about $4,580 for those with incomes over $200,000.” 
But I don’t agree that it should be eliminated. By comparison, ACA subsidies are about $6,300 per person on average. 
If you look at the exclusion in isolation it looks regressive. If you plot it alongside the ACA subsidies, in fact it’s not, it acts to smooth out the hyper-progressive ACA subsidy drop off.
 - https://www.cbo.gov/system/files?file=2018-06/51298-2018-05-...
 - https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/04/14/the-worst-t...
I'm not following why this is a subsidy per se. I can deduct health insurance premiums from my self employment after all.
Its hard to take your words that _most_ people want it without anything backing.
All this regulatory squabbling is arguing over whether a square peg fits a round hole or fits a triangular hole.
We need a third classification for gig workers that affords them some protections while preserving the economic viability of ridesharing companies. Disregarding any problems we might have with specific companies, I think ridesharing companies are a benefit to consumers.
How could you compare someone voluntarily engaging in employment to slave labor?
> well be detrimental overall, because it increases costs for everyone.
I don't buy it. The math that claims that these designations cost taxpayers is naive. As though applying additional costs to the employers would somehow just generate wealth and tax revenue from nowhere. The money would come from somewhere (consumers and gig workers), and would result in less business as an artificially higher price would scale back quantity demanded.
> The only people who are really benefiting are the large shareholders.
Most of these businesses are losing a lot of money. They're not fleecing anyone. It might not be viable by any means but increasing the costs arbitrarily would decrease their chances. It's important to remember that most of these gig workers work these jobs because they prefer them over any other job available to them. So removing options for them is unlikely to benefit them.
My personal opinion on your last statement about removing options being unlikely to benefit, the other way of looking at it is a race to the bottom. If you create a job market segment where employees are being underpaid, but they're accepting it because there aren't better options for them, the overall job market can suffer. Hypothetically, some place like Walmart could see a chance to pay less for their workers, and if they actually went through with it then one of the largest employers would be taking a massive chunk of money out of the working class. They're a good example because they're already a burden on tax payers (about 6.2 billion depending on your source) since so many of their workers are on welfare. The reality is, if you let companies exploit workers, they will, and the workers will be happy to be exploited until it's too late. See: Working conditions in China over the past few decades
I'm not an economist, so maybe someone with more knowledge on the subject can hopefully put it more eloquently, or maybe even give an explanation as to why I might be wrong
I think this statement is trivially true. The question becomes:
1) Are these people being underpaid, and would making them employees increase their pay?
2) Are there no better options available?
I am not convinced of either of these points. Uber's pay seems to be competitive . We also have historically low unemployment. It is easier to get a job now than anytime in the past ten years, and much easier than the historical average. The fact that this is the case and people are still flocking to be gig workers should tell you that people want to be Uber drivers, they are not forced into it.
Maybe, maybe not. It would give them access to healthcare and other things a lot of people take for granted.
> The fact that this is the case and people are still flocking to be gig workers should tell you that people want to be Uber drivers, they are not forced into it.
Or, maybe it's an indication that there aren't other jobs available for the people flocking. The want is to make money, not to drive for Uber.
This is something I'm not clear on. Couldn't Uber still hire the drivers and limit them to 39 hours a week? Wage workers don't get benefits like health insurance. Even being a salaried worker does not guarantee health insurance, etc.
Am I missing something? Maybe California's labor laws are different than my states.
Companies, including Walmart, don't set wages arbitrarily. Despite their size, they can't control the market for labor. They don't pay what they do because they are generous. There are frictions with hiring and onboarding people. They want their employees to be happy. And even if they were a significantly large employer, the market is not a closed system and things change
Regarding your welfare claim, it depends how you look at it. Walmart is offering these people the best employment opportunity they can get, otherwise they would work elsewhere. If they lost that opportunity which certainly some would with increased costs, they would likely be moved to more generous government benefits.
> [Walmart] wants their employees to be happy
There is little evidence for this that I have seen. Rather, they want to provide as little support for employees possible consistent with maintaining their profits. But there are many, many horrific stories of Walmart abusing and taking unethical (often illegal) advantage of employees.
In addition Walmart spends considerable effort and money lobbying governments to undermine basic worker rights and protections.
"Selling yourself into slavery" is a contradiction in terms. Willingly exchanging labor for compensation is not slavery. It's just an attempt to frame things in an inflammatory way.
Suppose that someone kidnaps you and forces you to work without compensation for the rest of your life. Suppose that you willingly agree to sign onto $250K in student loans that can't be discharged in bankruptcy and which you will never in your whole life be able to pay all back. Is agreeing to work for someone your whole life if they put you through college more like the first one or more like the second one? Clearly the second, I think, but then we see people calling it "selling yourself into slavery" on one hand and the government explicitly subsidizing it on the other.
Agreeing to either of those sets of terms is, of course, problematic. But the problem isn't caused by someone being willing to offer those terms, it's caused by people being desperate enough to accept them. And you can't solve that by limiting their alternatives to whatever even worse option that caused them to choose the objectionable one to begin with. You have to add better alternatives, not remove existing ones.
> In addition Walmart spends considerable effort and money lobbying governments to undermine basic worker rights and protections.
You say "undermine basic worker rights and protections" while they say creating jobs for unskilled workers who would otherwise have to rely fully on government assistance.
In many (both historical and ongoing) cases the societal abuses this goes with are quite horrific, and the large-scale power imbalances are extreme.
Removing abusive employment relations at a society-wide scale is a strong first step towards helping people out of the kind of desperate situations where such arrangements would seem better than alternatives.
The abstract libertarian fantasy-land where every “consensual” “contract” is mutually beneficial sounds nice if you don’t bother learning the details of specific past and present legal and social systems. In reality these abusive social relations are a nightmare, doing irreparable damage to countless people’s lives.
Then think about how bad their alternatives must be
I will say this about Walmart, despite what you say about conditions and low pay, they are still above the board compared to smaller employers. They follow all the labor laws, pay taxes and afford their employees all the rights required by law. The alternatives such as small employers often don't pay taxes and pay their employees under the table, stripping them of legitimacy and rights. So again it depends on what you're comparing them to
Normally the going rate for a given job would be around where supply=demand. If there are too few potential employees, the jobs that can pay $20/hr will get the workers and the jobs that can only pay $10/hr will go under. If there too few jobs, the going rate will go down, and now jobs that can only afford to pay less will be viable.
The danger I see with trying to achieve social progress by mandating every job be a "good job" is that it is very easy this way to create a situation where supply != demand. If you simply mandate no jobs pay less than $20/hr, the businesses that are only viable at $10/hr will go under. But if supply=demand before, and a bunch of jobs disappear, now you have people that can't get a job at all. So you've created some winners, but only at the expense of the people who are least competitive in the job market. And to use Uber as a specific example, sure they can raise their prices, but fewer people will take Uber and the demand for drivers will still be reduced.
This is a simplification of course. Maybe even if the overall market can't afford to pay more, particular companies can, and unions could achieve better price discrimination for labor. Or raising the minimum wage a moderate amount may only have a minimal effect on demand. But I think the overall model of individual employees and employers with individual prices is pretty solid.
If you follow this model, the best way to achieve progress is probably not to ban low-paying jobs from existing. It would be to create a greater number of jobs (some of which are higher paying) and then the low-paying jobs will be forced to either raise their wages or cease to exist naturally. By doing it that way there won't be a job shortage. I think the government still has a major role to play in this, but it's a more complicated one than just mandating what the market price should be for a transaction to be allowed.
China is probably an example of this sort of development. Before the trade war, factories were already moving out of China (to Vietnam, etc) because the wages there have gone up so much. There are certainly many problems and it is certainly not a developed country yet. But the wage (and overall economic) growth over the past few decades has been almost unimaginable .
Interestingly, if you want to look at a modern parallel, it's not too far off from how H1Bs are used. There are of course more modern rights that allow individuals to quickly terminate these responsibilities but essentially contracts hold needs (income, assets) and desires (citizenship) hostage as the bargaining mechanisms, not too far from what many indentured servants entered into. To be fair, working conditions and treatment have also of course increased drastically.
The gig workers I talked to basically told me „it’s either that gig job or starving“, so I‘m not so sure about the voluntariness anymore.
You could say the same about every American living paycheck to paycheck. Are they all slaves?
I would hypothesize that the gig economy gradually grows into a large economic underclass. And the larger it grows, the worse it is for each individual member. Maybe we should avoid that
Is it really voluntary if the alternative is to die of starvation?
The vast majority of people in the world work in order to feed themselves and their families. This does not make the work “involuntary”.
Choice is obviously not an absolute, because we don’t live in magical fairy land. Choice is the ability to decide how you will go about feeding yourself and your family.
Gig economy simply increases the available choices, and provides quite a few fairly pleasant options, judging by how many people choose to do Gig work versus any other possible minimum wage (or below) job.
There is real slavery in the world. To equate Gig jobs with slavery is pretty terribly insulting both to Gig workers and the people actually suffering true slavery or slave-like conditions.
Yes, and this is an inane state-of-affairs given 2019 technology. We could keep the entire world population fed with minimal effort, if we stopped acting in insane ways.
But I don't care for California to make sure privately hired cars are theoretically X% cheaper. If there are protections that are needed for drivers so their net income is more obvious or something, let's do that.
I am all for ridesharing. But Uber and Lyft, as an example, has nothing to do with that concept. It is not like your Uber driver was coincidentally going to the exact place that you were going.
Ridesharing, as understood before the gig economy, was someone in the company realizing that there were more employees in her neighbourhood and providing a ride for them for a price (some times just sharing gas expenses).
That is a really good approach. Uber/Lyft and others hide their business model calling themselves ridesharing when they are not, calling their employees contractors, when they are not, etc.
As much as I hate the term ridesharing, since it doesn't actually describe what these companies and drivers do, it's not like it was a widely-used term that's been redefined over the past decade.
Unless the Uber takes more than one passanger it's not any ride sharing involved. Maybe the could call it vehicle sharing ...
Definitely agree that Lyft/Uber aren’t really ride sharing in that sense though — the driver’s goal is to earn a fare on a trip he wasn’t going to take otherwise, while the original ride shares were a cost-reduction on a trip the driver was going to make anyway.
In the Bay Area there's something called Casual Carpool; essentially it's just a series of locations you can go to around work-travel hours, and people who have cars and are willing to pick up people going to the same area will randomly show up and pick people up. No scheduling or prior arrangements aside from the locations. (And it's been around way longer than Uber/Lyft/etc.)
Carpooling is when 2+ drivers ride together in a car one of them owns instead of everyone driving separately.
And the drivers are satisfied. I made a point to ask each one and they really like it, much more than any traditional work and MUCH more than being an "official" taxi.
Ride to bus station cost me about 2Euros.
In London we used to have a good taxi system that was well run with trustworthy drivers in "Black cabs", but with the undercutting of Uber they are more likely to try underhand tactics.
It is hard to deduce from your comment, which period of time you are describing ─ as black cabbies haven't been very popular or trustworthy for a very long time. Also, there was a very similar campaign of resistance to 'mini-cabs' decades ago, as the one conducted against Uber et al. at present, by the 'Black cab' community.
I am glad that these dinosaurs are slowly diminishing in their market share, who have been exploiting 'The Knowledge' for far too long by regurgitating morally repugnant views/opinions, formed from a diet of gutter press/red-tops and forcing them upon unsuspecting passengers and blind siding visitors into thinking that it is the traditional experience!
I take your general point, although I'm not convinced the Warboys case is a reason to dislike Black cabs anymore than Harold Shipman is reason to dislike doctors!
The reasons to dislike them would be the 3x charges compared to their counterparts, knuckle-dragging attitude towards implementing technology and under-handed tactics e.g. insisting on only accepting cash, then never having change from high-denomination notes at the end of your journey, so you are forced to leave it as a hefty tip, ignoring disabled riders, surge pricing after late night public transport has stopped; only accepting rides if they end up in the general direction of their residence at the end of the shift - despite this practice being against their rules, always taking a longer route to rinse the rider and many more..
While it is not a silver bullet, it is also not an universally wrong/bad way - that's my point.
Nobody is using these services under the impression that the drivers just happen to be going to the same destination. So your semantic quibble is just that.
Doesn’t it depends on the contract ? Nothing stops a company from letting their employee set their own hours.
That’s actually close to how door to door sales contracts work in some fields, where the company doesn’t care about how long or where the salesman works, and mostly pays by the sales number.
How about the ridesharing companies should provide - by law - for food and shelter (paid for with a pay cut from the gigs) until the employee/contractor can get his own food and roof ? That would offer some protections to people while keeping the economy going on ? It would also allow really poor people to get on the job wagon with some kind of peace of mind regarding the end of the month.
The companies could make a year-contract euro style so they would be certain the original investment isn't wasted and the employee/contractor has a job for a year until he becomes a regular contractor.
so basically making gig workers even more dependent on the company?
Most people figure out as children that responsibility and power are intimately tied together, but apparently that concept escapes some people even into adulthood...
Big if true
But I am wary of the efficiency of company towns. In my perspective, things like housing, food, and medicine are "power vacuum" issues, where not taking up these issues is the same as leaving power (and responsibility) on the table for someone else to grab. I also think once power is taken away it's hard to get back.
I view the issues you're talking about as social and government issues, and I'm wary about ceding more and more responsibility to businesses simply because we think government sucks.
Uber would likely have to reclassify tens of thousands of drivers in California as employees — something Uber drivers have been fighting for in court, unsuccessfully, for years.
"Fighting for in court" links to https://www.vox.com/2019/5/8/18535367/uber-drivers-strike-20... - which includes these choice paragraphs:
It’s worth reemphasizing this: Uber doesn’t want to pay drivers to take 15-minute rest breaks every few hours because it would cost too much, even though all US employers are required to give hourly workers paid breaks under federal law.
In the filing, the company says that dissatisfied drivers could become a business liability, as recent protests in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States have interrupted business on the platform. Instead of outlining ways to make drivers happy, Uber suggests it will just get worse.
“As we aim to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect Driver dissatisfaction will generally increase,” the company stated.
Sssssooo this maybe sounds like something employees who have been doing these jobs have been wanting for a while...
You would get the benefits of employees, but now you would have to work at least 40 hours a week and now those hours will be set by Uber - you will not get to choose your own hours.
Do you think they'd want that situation?
Why would you have to work at least 40 hours a week? There is such a thing as a part-time employee In fact most low-rung jobs try to keep employees under full-time to avoid the extra benefits that FTEs qualify for.
Or, put it another way, if Uber required its drivers to work 40 hours a week and this resulted in unhappy drivers, what makes you think anyone would want to drive for Uber in the first place?
As for the FTE quandary, blame the party who put themselves before the people and pushed the ACA out with a the twenty nine hour rule. That has done more damage to lower income workers than nearly any change before it.
Now if Uber or Lyft penalize drivers for turning the app off that could be regulated but mandating a break time when the use of the app is wholly in the hands of the driver?
Because if you work less than that then the employee does not generate enough revenue to pay for the overhead cost of benefits.
> There is such a thing as a part-time employee In fact most low-rung jobs try to keep employees under full-time to avoid the extra benefits that FTEs qualify for.
If that's the case with Uber drivers then they don't get benefits either. And on top of that, the company will probably have to cap drivers' hours in order to keep them from qualifying for benefits.
> Or, put it another way, if Uber required its drivers to work 40 hours a week and this resulted in unhappy drivers, what makes you think anyone would want to drive for Uber in the first place?
They wouldn't. That's my point. If this legislation goes into effect, then driving for Uber will not be a viable employment option for many current drivers because of the loss of work flexibility.
That's not how things work at a low wage job. Beyond a threshold (around 30 hours) employers are hit with extra mandates (e.g. health insurance).
If that's the case with Uber drivers then they don't get benefits either. And on top of that, the company will probably have to cap drivers' hours in order to keep them from qualifying for benefits.
That's not true either. Being classed as an employee will mean that the drivers qualify for unemployment insurance, that Uber will pay half of some of the taxes typically levied on wages, oh and having W2 wages will qualify you for a tax-advantaged IRA (retirement account). There are some other perks as well depending on the locality. Being an employee versus contractor comes with a number of benefits that aren't health insurance.
Regardless, let me make this simpler because we seem to be getting lost on tangents. Each Uber driver bring in $X revenue per hour. For each Uber driver there are $Y hourly expenses (almost certainly dominated by the drivers' wages). So for every hour of work each Uber driver generates $X - $Y dollars for Uber. But that's not the whole situation. Uber also has overhead costs for each driver. Currently this is minimal, probably just the cost of operating the web service. Let's say $X is 20, $Y is 15, and each driver has a $50 a week overhead cost. So Uber drivers have to drive for 10 hours a week to make even.
Benefits almost always take the form of overhead costs. So now lets say these overhead costs go up from $50 a week to $150 a week. Now each driver needs to drive for at least 30 hours a week to break even. Uber now has a strong incentive to get rid of the drivers working less than that amount because they're costing the company more in expenses than they're bringing in.
Money doesn't appear out of nowhere. If Uber drivers are getting more benefits, then that costs money and that money needs to come from somewhere. It's either going to be lower pay, less flexible hours, or something we're not thinking of. There's no having your cake and eating it too.
This neatly solves the Uber problem too, as full-time/part-time/contractor becomes a near-meaningless distinction. All of them just end up earning money for work done, with the only difference being whether you choose your hours or are given regular working hours, and if you're paid by the hour or by the week.
If I'm an independent contractor, then it is my responsibility to get insurance, etc. It is my responsibility to make sure I'm taking in enough money to cover that stuff. So, the state is going after the wrong entity here.
You are defining money losing as not funded by selling goods and services. Most accountants would define it as costs exceeding revenue.
No, you're talking about Uber breaking even — not the drivers. If you're worried about the drivers, how much does their individual health insurance cost versus a group plan for a large company like Uber? How about the rates they'd get with an IRA versus a 401k that only a W2 employee is eligible for? The employee's share of the costs go down when they are classified as an employee and not an individual contractor.
You're conflating the costs of driving for Uber (most of which Uber has shifted to their pseudo-employees) with the costs to run Uber. Uber itself loses money on every ride, it's entirely subsidized with VC money. That's why their stated goal is to develop autonomous vehicles and dump the drivers ASAP.
You don't need W2 income to contribute to an IRA, any "earned income" is suitable. 1099 income is fine.
Nonsense. If this were true part-time jobs wouldn't exist, but they do. There's no shortage of stories of people working at major retailers and being unable to get >29 hours / week because the employer doesn't want them crossing into full-time status (IRS defines this at 30 hours, many companies follow this for benefits purposes as well).
I’m wondering if Uber will seek to collaboration with the correctional facilities which can provide staffing for similar scenarios.
The article mentions "Last month, Uber settled the main court case with 13,600 Uber drivers". That doesn't seem like a lot of drivers (or the majority) of drivers.
(There's a requirement that short breaks be treated as compensated time for the purposes of determining when overtime pay starts, but that's not what your quote is getting at.)
That’s an pretty optimistic take on the situation. What these new “employees” are going to get, is fired.
I know some people are OK with that, if the task isn’t profitable enough to pay a human full benefits to work on it, then it’s not profitable enough to employ a human to do it at all.
But there’s a lot of space to integrate under the employment curve for these types of super-low-skill jobs that people mostly use to fill in the gaps in their earnings. I think ultimately this does a huge disservice to the people who worked these gigs to earn some extra money, because it will no longer be possible to do that.
What will be left is full-time workers in these roles who have no other choice, who probably have a significantly shittier work experience doing jobs or working hours they previously would have passed on.
Which honestly is sad, because there is little to no advancement opportunity, so this is not supposed to be a career, and you’ve taken away the option for all these low friction ways to make up a financial gap that might come up one month to the next.
If someone finds themselves struggling to pay rent next week and they know they’ll be facing an eviction notice in 10 days, today they can jump on any number of apps and make up that couple hundred dollar shortfall. That’s not going to be possible if they’re classified as an employee.
If the choice is between raising prices to support higher employee expenditures, and firing all of their drivers and leaving the California market, you think they'll choose the latter?
Or is there a third option I'm not thinking of?
When Seattle raised it's minimum wage to $15/hr the same FUD was being pushed, that all restaurants would fire all of their employee's, that Seattle would become literal hell and the local economy would crash. Didn't happen and restaurants now enjoy one of the top markets in the USA.
Also, what is the difference between Uber and eBay / Airbnb ? Can a seller in eBay or a host at Airbnb be considered an employee ? Essentially both eBay and Airbnb have no business without their sellers or hosts. One can claim that these are marketplaces, but the only difference between these marketplaces and Uber is that Uber sets price (according to the ABC test). Can Uber then simply skirt the law by allowing a price "opt-in" suggestion ? or even outsourcing pricing to another LLC ?
Edit: just thinking more about my last point. Uber can easily let drivers set their own price and simply show the lower price range to the passenger. Will be interesting to see how that plays out
It seems to me like you skipped a step or two in your explanation there. What inherently makes driving 5000 miles per month exploitation? There are many paid driving gigs (some employee, some owner-operator) that drive at least that much and I'm not sure I'd classify any of them as exploitative.
Averaging 30 miles an hour, that's 166 hours a month.
Your working time calculation also needs to consider loading and unloading passengers, gaps between fares, time for comfort breaks, refueling, vehicle cleaning and maintenance, etc.
And on the highway, it's 60-80 MPH. It could very well be under 160 hours.
> Your working time calculation also needs to consider loading and unloading passengers, gaps between fares, time for comfort breaks, refueling, vehicle cleaning and maintenance, etc.
True, and the 5000 mile count also needs to subtract driving for personal reasons. Judging by the previous comment the figure of 5000 was not limited to miles specifically driven for Uber.
So by these calculations, that person is driving close to or above 300h/month. Possibly with few bathroom brakes and no rest.
While absorbing the cost for insurance and car amortization. If this is not exploration and a great deal for an unscrupulous employer I don’t know what is.
Yes, the “economy” is doing great. And yes, for a frighteningly large proportion of its citizens the US feels more and more like a 3rd world country.
It does. It is labor law, and it applies to labor, not to transactions performed in a market place.
>The ruling and the bill instruct businesses to use the so-called “ABC test” to figure out whether a worker is an employee.
> (b) is doing work that isn’t central to the company’s business
Workers doing work.
What does this mean for engineers who are independent contractors in California? It's arguable that an engineer would likely be working on something that is central to a company's business, and whether said engineer has an "independent business" in their industry.
The state’s Chamber of Commerce and dozens of industry groups have been lobbying for exemptions, and a long list of professions were excluded from the bill: doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, insurance agents, accountants, engineers, financial advisers, real estate agents, and hairstylists who rent booths at salons.
My job title at my current employer is "software engineer", but I don't have a formal education in engineering, and who knows if the California legislature sees that as engineering or a glorification of "what my nephew does on his computer with a thing called Word Press." Perhaps I'm too cynical.
So, presumably no. Only engineers with a P.E. license (which has been pretty much phased out for software engineering).
The examples given imply this classical meaning of "profession". As you've pointed out, engineering in this context means jobs you'd need a license for, like civil engineering.
To me, the real test is what will happen is this passes. Will it move hiring to other states and offshore?
I'm in CA and I haven't hired someone from CA in a long time. Poland and Ukraine are the main places. The last 3 candidates wanted more than the CEO makes. We're small and can't afford Bay Area salaries.
Still, I'm not a fan of losing more freedom, which is what my state government is seemingly doing. If I couldn't work as a contractor this last year, I don't know if I could have made ends meet in one of the country's most expensive cities and have the time to get hired making 6 figures as a software engineer. Maybe, but I imagine it would have been more difficult.
When I was driving for GrubHub, I was making about $17.50 per hour after tax, and the faster I was, the more I would make in cash tips. Not having the freedom to work when I want and only take the delivery orders I wanted probably would have meant flipping burgers for $11 an hour(minimum wage) pre-tax and having to work the hours dictated to me. That's if I could even get said minimum wage job, given that even when I was a college student employers would refuse me because I was "overqualified".
Either I would have had to stick to a job I didn't care for and not take a shot at starting a business, or I would have spent months or years trying to get on my feet on minimum wage without having as much time to do interviews and coding challenges.
It's certainly possible that I'll end up paying down the road for the increase in wear and tear from when I was driving, but at least now I'm in a secure position where I could actually afford the repairs or to get a new car without worrying about paying the bills.
It’s weird to me that just about every piece of mechanical equipment you’ve ever heard of is measured in terms of operating hours, but not cars? Color me skeptical.
As to the 0.58$/mile: an hour at 55mph would be, what? 31.90$?
That said, there are specific costs that are primarily about distance (fuel, tires). Furthermore, probably overly conservative oil change recommendations notwithstanding, essentially all car makers express maintenance intervals in terms of mileage not hours (which could easily be measured). I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're doing.
Most synthetic oil I’ve seen can last 10,000 miles or even more.
Are they, though? It's not just related to the business, it's central to the business. If you're an engineer working as an IC at a bank to beef up their IT security, for example, I don't see how that'd classify as being "central to the company's business." Similarly if you're an IC hired to help with QA or testing would that ever really be central to the business? It's a part of the companies product/offerings, yes, but is it central? Does the company's existence hinge on your role specifically?
Take away most IC engineers from most IT companies and the company gets worse but probably still exists. Take away the drivers from uber and there's literally no uber anymore.
With respect to the latter, these are people who I don't see in any other occupation. I assume the reason they work these jobs is that they cannot get traditional jobs which generally have higher barriers-to-entry due to higher guaranteed wages and more benefits.
If gig economy jobs are made to be more like other jobs, then the same barriers to entry are going to emerge.
It's the very low-cost nature of providing these jobs that makes them accessible to those at the lower end of the skill scale.
Th US has actually seen wages for low-skilled workers grow very quickly over the last couple of years and perhaps it is not a coincidence that it has been over the last couple of years when the number of gig economy jobs has grown to become a significant portion of the total job market.
Basic economy theory dictates that increasing the sources of demand for low-skilled labor will increase wages for low-skilled labor. That's why gig economy jobs shouldn't be prohibited.
This law will have an overall negative impact on people who want to work independently and take care of their own stuff.
Here's how its already impacting freelance journalists:
We're not talking about slave labor here. It's a consensual relationship.
If I want to be a 1099 and be more independent, I'm not sure what the state's interest is here.
When I talk to people doing these jobs they are glad to have them, and don’t have a problem with the terms. They like the flexibility and many are doing them as a stepping stone to the next thing.
If an Uber ride becomes more expensive, how does that benefit an elderly person living on social security who can’t walk well and has to get across town?
Pokémon Go players don't even get paid, yet they drive from pokestop to pokestop just to earn virtual items.
I'm surprised there isn't an Uber like app that operates this way yet actually.
Everyone has a choice: You can choose to work for Uber/Lyft and make extra money or get a job somewhere else that provides benefits and a higher wage. There is no scam going on and everyone is trying to make a buck. I see no problem with classifying the drivers as contractors.
If I want to drive for Uber, all I have to do is pass a background check. When I want to drive for them, all I have to do is turn on an app. When I'm done, I turn off the app. I can work whenever I feel like it. Very low stress! I get wanting to "protect" workers but this ain't it. I want Uber/Uber-like things to exist so I can earn a few dollars here and there if I need to.
Ugh, sorry, this makes me so angry and other people have been much more eloquent on the subject.
How much of a bill like this is actually the government looking to increase revenue, and how much of it would ultimately benefit pole dancers?
Uber drivers are a particularly weird case because there is no way to really stop them from working for Lyft at the same time ... so they are supposed to get a guaranteed minimum wage? From each ride service they drive for?
How does this apply to business-to-business contracting arrangements, especially in the world of software engineering? Businesses hire contract labor from vendors all the time--are those laborers to be considered employees of both the vendor and hiring company now?
The test as indicated in the article doesn't say anything about this kind of B2B arrangement, though. Why wouldn't this law apply to individuals in this case?
This quote from the article resounds heavily with me.
Sounds better than dealing with extremes.
With these laws it won't be profitable for those companies to run their business.
But the delivery companies, and the scooter companies that pay people to charge the scooters.
Overall the gig economy is the future, we shouldn't harm it because of greed.
Classic political short-sightedness.
Remove the drivers, Uber doesn't have a business. Their drivers are the most important thing to them.
And it will reduce the # of uber driver demand / work pool
Excellent. Consumers should be paying more for these things so that drivers have benefits and good pay. Solidarity with your fellow American worker. I personally leave huge tips and 5/5 stars no matter what unless I almost physically die or am assaulted. I know they aren't making great money and some probably live in their cars. I don't use them unless it's a non-medical emergency though.
"We the people"
I think the drivers would like it if you used it more, not less, because then they would make more money.
The ease of entering and exiting the gig economy is one of its most valuable aspects. What other kinds of jobs can you set your own hours, and join and quit largely at whim? If Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, etc. all now have to consider their contractors employees then they will have to start setting hours. If they have to give their workers the same benefits as employees, then it will be financially unsustainable to let them set their own hours. People who depended on Uber for flexible employment will not be able to continue working.
This seems like political posturing that's going to hurt the majority of employees if it passes.
Most Uber/lyft drivers are recent immigrants , working poor who end up taking on a lot of risk for little if any reward.
Uber also uses psychological tricks to trick drivers into driving more then is rational 
$40,000 a year is hardly minimum wage. Most of the drivers I've talked to explain that it does usually equate to between minimum wage to $20-$25 an hour after expenses depending on how effective you are at getting surge priced rides. But, unlike a minimum wage job you can set your own hours which is a huge advantage.
> Most Uber/lyft drivers are recent immigrants , working poor who end up taking on a lot of risk for little if any reward.
Yeah, and what would poor recent immigrants be doing instead? Probably work that is much riskier (e.g. farm work).
> Uber also uses psychological tricks to trick drivers into driving more then is rational
I don't see any "psychological tricks" in this article. Telling drivers where the most riders are and where surge pricing is happening helps drivers get more money. And I'm supposed to think this is a bad thing?
Also, I would advise against trusting the NYT when it comes to reporting on the tech industry - especially large tech companies. I have observed grossly exaggerated stories and even outright falsehoods portraying tech companies in a negative light with enough consistency that I do not consider them a reliable source on this topic. Remember, traditional media like the New York Times is being decimated by Google and social media. Fanning the fires of the "techlash" is in their best interest.
No, but it gets pretty close when you factor in all the expenses that contractors have to deal with.
And regardless, this is exactly one data point. Hardly enough to draw any meaningful conclusions. And as I have said before, I am not inclined to trust the New York Times' coverage of large tech companies.
* Attempting to depict high profile YouTubers as promoting Nazism despite the given examples unambiguously not promoting nazism in context.
* Alleging YouTube pushes users towards right wing content when quantitative analysis shows left-leaning content outnumbers right leaning content more than 2:!, and a slim minority of recommendations going to right leaning content.
Here's one recent example: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/28/technology/google-temp-wo...
The NYT is portraying Google's use of contractors as some nefarious and unfair system of two tiers of employees. In reality this not at all specific to Google, or even tech companies. Most companies use contractors for security, office maintenance, and recruiting. This is not new. Nor is it secret. Calling it a "shadow" workforce is deceptive.
The pattern of portraying large tech companies (especially Google) in a negative light is a consistent pattern I have observed for years. Bias is inevitable when there is a conflict of interest like this. Established media and news organizations are losing huge amounts of money and influence to technology companies. Trusting them to be unbiased in their reporting face of such a conflict of interest is highly naive.
The writers at the NYT are unionized and consequently derive above-market wages as a result of labor regulations.
Gig economy companies like Uber undermine labor regulations, like the kind that empower unionized workforces like the NYT's.
Still the theory has a pretty flimsy basis of support.
Will it hurt them more than making roughly minimum wage or less?
Marketwatch is estimating under $11/hr with no insurance, no retirement benefits, etc. Even In-n-Out and Starbucks pay more, offer better benefits (even for part timers), and generally offer flexible schedules.
You'd prefer that I answer "because gig economy companies provide unmatched flexibility and freedom to their employees^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcontractors", right? I'm not really here to play that game, so how's this?
- They may not work in an area where In-n-Out exists or Starbucks is hiring. Note: this doesn't mean that the other available low/no skill work pays less than Uber or other "gig economy" jobs.
- They may not realize that retail work pays more than Uber or they may believe Uber's exaggerated wage claims while not realizing that Uber would continue to take a larger and larger share of the driver's earnings
- They may have fallen prey to Uber's predatory financing and bought a vehicle expressly to drive for Uber
- They may believe that working in "gig economy" serfdom makes financial sense. I've a friend like that. They "work" for Instacart, but instead of driving their own vehicle (which they're upside down on) they use Uber to get to the grocery store, then another Uber to the person's house, and then another Uber home. Trust me, it's costing them money to do this but in their head it makes sense
- They could be Travis Kalanick and drive under the Boober model — basically driving as a means of meeting sexual conquests.
- They could believe that retail work is beneath them
- Back before Uber was forced to institute background checks another option is that the driver failed a background check elsewhere or was otherwise unemployable in retail.
I don't think VW should want to want that even if they do.
Having 3 months mutual contract disbandment time favours the employer way more than the employee. It's huge being able to replace a person in an orderly manner.
Also I believe given big corps. inefficiencys and internal "politics" not being able to fire who you want at random but in predetermined order is also good for the corparations since you will automatically keep the employees with the most experience and not make stupid shortsighted savings or fireing people the bosses don't like.
“They didn’t understand that in Germany, companies and unions are closely connected,” Mr. Poschmann said. “Bentonville didn’t want to have anything to do with unions. They thought we were communists.” 
This is just fucking insane. That's not a supermarket, that's like a cult.
They kept it up into the 1950s, when Tom Watson died and control of the company passed to his son.
I like this note from the end of the Network World article, where they ask a Harvard Business School professor if there's anything similar going on in the contemporary tech world:
> "I don't think there is a Microsoft company song other than 'Get to the bank as fast as possible so you can deposit the check,' " Tedlow adds.
"Harmonised unemployment rates define the unemployed as people of working age who are without work, are available for work, and have taken specific steps to find work. The uniform application of this definition results in estimates of unemployment rates that are more internationally comparable than estimates based on national definitions of unemployment. This indicator is measured in numbers of unemployed people as a percentage of the labour force and it is seasonally adjusted. The labour force is defined as the total number of unemployed people plus those in civilian employment." (https://data.oecd.org/unemp/harmonised-unemployment-rate-hur...)
Besides, harmonized or not, doesn't explain the economic weakness in Germany over the past decade compared to the US.
If anything, the US should scale back profits and rebuild its social supports structures, the same structures which were torn down in the name of profit.
>If anything, the US should scale back profits and rebuild its social supports structures, the same structures which were torn down in the name of profit.
All of this sounds like more debt, which if we learned (we haven't) anything from 2008, will not solve the problems, just exacerbate it more when it blows up (again).
... which is meaningless when you compare it to the official US statistics (as you did) because they count things differently. The harmonization helps make the numbers comparable in the first place.
Let's posit as a hypothetical that 1% of the workforce is deplorably bad at the notion of being employed (let's define that as: It'll take them 100s+ of trying things until they find a job where the employer is better off employing them vs. not employing them). Let's say a further 1% is rated as 'quite bad' (defined as: More than half the jobs they would on paper qualify for, they'd do such a bad job the employer is better off not employing them).
Why employ these people? In western europe the common song and dance routine is a calvinistic 'because work is good for you, otherwise they'd be lazy gits'... at which point apparently the argument becomes: The employers of the notion must carry the burden of dealing with these folks, for the good of society.
In the US and a lot of right wing euro parties the sentiment is more: Well, they are lazy! I don't wanna pay taxes to enable these morons. Except that is an economic falsehood; they drag society down no matter what you do. I guess unless you're willing to take the moral position of just casually killing them in a way that is really cheap and easy (and thus, probably quite imprecise – few to no people are morally okay with this I assume), you just have to grin and bear it. Yeah, they drag a bit. It's fine; the economy can easily accomodate them.
The point is: A system that does let such people be employed here and there for a while is not inherently better than one that does not, and, 0% unemployment is a crazy goal.
This is an overly coarse grained depiction of the situation. An individual is not blanket "bad employee" who can't be productive. I'm a good software developer, but if you hired me to be a concert pianist I'd suck at it. I'd say probably 5-10% of employees end up being under productive or non-productive at their jobs. This is consistent with the performance review scores I've seen.
When firing an employee is easy, employers are much more willing to hire because they know that they will be able to terminate employees that are not productive. When firing an employee is hard, employers will be reluctant to hire employees and will only hire the ones that they are confident will do well. This usually makes it very hard to get started in an industry, because companies are leery of workers without experience.
> Why employ these people? In western europe the common song and dance routine is a calvinistic 'because work is good for you, otherwise they'd be lazy gits'... at which point apparently the argument becomes: The employers of the notion must carry the burden of dealing with these folks, for the good of society.
This doesn't seem to be the case seeing as how most of Western Europe has a higher unemployment rate than the US.
> In the US and a lot of right wing euro parties the sentiment is more: Well, they are lazy! I don't wanna pay taxes to enable these morons. Except that is an economic falsehood; they drag society down no matter what you do. I guess unless you're willing to take the moral position of just casually killing them in a way that is really cheap and easy (and thus, probably quite imprecise – few to no people are morally okay with this I assume), you just have to grin and bear it. Yeah, they drag a bit. It's fine; the economy can easily accomodate them.
You're seriously saying that if we don't employ people who are incapable of doing their jobs, then the only other option is summary execution? This is absurd to the point that I can only assume this is a bad joke.
The much more likely approach is to let them continue to be unemployed and search for a job that they are capable of doing.
> The point is: A system that does let such people be employed here and there for a while is not inherently better than one that does not, and, 0% unemployment is a crazy goal.
0% unemployment is a crazy goal and I don't know why you seem to think that making it harder or easier to fire employees will ever bring it closer to zero. Even in fields where the number of job openings vastly exceed the available positions, unemployment is still usually at 1-2%.
I explicitly defined 'bad employee' as 'takes many job hops to find a place'. It's coarse grained to make a point, which you perhaps missed.
My point is: There is a % of the workforce that could work, but it is economically more efficient for them not to.
> When firing an employee is easy, employers are much more willing to hire because they know that they will be able to terminate employees that are not productive.
This is a separate idea: The job market should be such that people are free to find the best place for them. It'd take multiple essays to cover all the angles on how to best do that, or why the US is as it is, etc. For example, different cultural standards play quite a role there.
> This doesn't seem to be the case seeing as how most of Western Europe has a higher unemployment rate than the US.
It is the case now. Check just about any european politician's speeches. Unemployment rates don't prove anything here.
> You're seriously saying that if we don't employ people who are incapable of doing their jobs, then the only other option is summary execution?
Not what I said. I said: If you want to make an economic argument, given the fact that there are a few people where it's economically more efficient to not employ them, one should accept this. Or take on ridiculous extremist positions such as summary execution, which I assume nobody wants to take.
> 0% unemployment is a crazy goal and I don't know why you seem to think that making it harder or easier to fire employees
You seemed to be making the point that gig economy jobs are a good solution for perennially bad employees because they can easily get these jobs and be easily fired from them. I was countering said point.
There is an limit to exploitation capitalism.
That reminds me of the posturing when they passed those child labor laws. And what did we get? A bunch of unemployed children.
Child labor laws prevented parents from sacrificing their children' educations to use them for immediate economic gain. This is not at all related to extending employee benefits to contract workers that set their own hours.
You make the unqualified assumption that these people had healthcare and benefits before driving for Uber. And regardless, unlike child labor these are adults that are making these decisions for themselves. They looked at their opportunities and decided that driving for Uber or Lyft was best. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these individuals are more qualified to make their own life choices than people on the internet who know nothing about their lives.
Regardless, other countries have these worker protections and benefits for all jobs and Uber drivers don't have them. So Uber is a worse employer than most.
And still, people chose them you would say. Well, the problem with that is that there will always be people desperate enough, or naive enough or greedy enough to jump on opportunities. At the beginning, Uber was paying its drivers more and there were also fewer drivers.
Currently it's a predatory company. And society shouldn't tolerate such companies.
At the risk of going down the partisan rabbit hole, this reminds me of the video segment where Ami Horowitz questioned people of liberal political persuasions on the ability of black voters to meet photo ID requirements, and then asked black Americans the same questions:
He also isn't asking the black voters "the same questions" at all.
Can we try and improve the situation for low wage workers as well as additional methods to address unemployment?
Majority of land owners over the course of history had come to the conclusion that serfdom and slavery is beneficial to positive returns on landholding.
Also multiple countries had been greatly improving their GDP from forced labor (Nazi Germany, Mao's China, Stalin's Russia and other).
On the off chance that you're not trolling, contractors - unlike slaves - have the freedom to choose what work they'll do. Drivers for Uber often also drive for Lyft when it pays better. There's nothing stopping them leaving if their opinion is that the pay is not worth the work. By comparison, slaves are not free and are forced to do whatever work their masters tell them to.
"Freedom" of choice is relative term here.
Slaves also had next to no protection. Slaves could be killed in gladiatorial fights, and were often used to work in the most unhealthy and unsafe jobs. Masters could rape their slaves at will, or prostitute their slaves. The only "protection" they had was the fact that it was in their masters' self-interest to keep them alive so that they could continue working.
I seriously cannot fathom as to how you can think that the gig economy is comparable to owning other human beings as property.
One should not base their notion of slavery on popular culture like Game of Thrones or Gladiator but on reading historic books. Or Wikipedia.
> Although in general freed slaves could become citizens, with the right to vote if they were male
> Roman slaves could hold property which, despite the fact that it belonged to their masters, they were allowed to use as if it were their own.
> Claudius announced that if a slave was abandoned by his master, he became free. Nero granted slaves the right to complain against their masters in a court. And under Antoninus Pius, a master who killed a slave without just cause could be tried for homicide. Legal protection of slaves continued to grow as the empire expanded. It became common throughout the mid to late 2nd century AD to allow slaves to complain of cruel or unfair treatment by their owners.
Also some slave had been administering largest empires on Earth (China, Roman Empire) or establishing empires of their own with control over lifes of milions of free people.
> Particularly in Egypt, but also in the Levant, Mesopotamia, and India, mamluks held political and military power. In some cases, they attained the rank of sultan, while in others they held regional power as emirs or beys. Most notably, mamluk factions seized the sultanate centered on Egypt and Syria, and controlled it as the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517).
So back to the subject. Slavery and serfdom had been complex institutions spanning thousands of years and multiple cultures and historical circumstances.
And yes. I am personally convinced that bringing poor people and immigrants with limited citizenship rights into perpetuating economic relation where they cannot make economic progress and mostly accumulate debt and obligations with limited social benefits is modern version of serfdom.
> Roman slaves could hold property which, despite the fact that it belonged to their masters, they were allowed to use as if it were their own. Skilled or educated slaves were allowed to earn their own money, and might hope to save enough to buy their freedom. Such slaves were often freed by the terms of their master's will, or for services rendered. A notable example of a high-status slave was Tiro, the secretary of Cicero. Tiro was freed before his master's death, and was successful enough to retire on his own country estate, where he died at the age of 99. However, the master could arrange that slaves would only have enough money to buy their freedom when they were too old to work. They could then use the money to buy a new young slave while the old slave, unable to work, would be forced to rely on charity to stay alive.
The opportunity to buy one's way to freedom was not the norm, and typically only skilled or educated slaves could aspire to do this. And, as the article mentioned, this could take a very long amount of time and its only something that skilled or educated slaves might aspire to achieve.
> Although in general freed slaves could become citizens, with the right to vote if they were male, those categorized as dediticii suffered permanent disbarment from citizenship. The dediticii were mainly slaves whose masters had felt compelled to punish them for serious misconduct by placing them in chains, branding them, torturing them to confess a crime, imprisoning them or sending them involuntarily to a gladiatorial school (ludus), or condemning them to fight with gladiator or wild beasts (their subsequent status was obviously a concern only to those who survived). Dediticii were regarded as a threat to society, regardless of whether their master's punishments had been justified, and if they came within a hundred miles of Rome, they were subject to reenslavement.
First of all, this only applies if the slave was freed which is up to the discretion of their master. Also, I wrote an essay on Roman slavery and the patterns of slavery evolved over the course of Rome's roughly millennium long existence. Some periods saw reduced or even eliminated paths for slaves to become free let along citizens. Slaves in the Roman Empire varied as far as their conditions. Educated slaves might lead decent lives, but on the whole slaves are on the lowest rungs of society and did not even remotely have the kinds of worker protections we have today.
Middle Eastern soldier-slaves aren't really slaves as Westerners understand the term. They were effectively a military caste. In fact, the article even says this in its opening section, "The most enduring Mamluk realm was the knightly military caste in Egypt in the Middle Ages, which developed from the ranks of slave soldiers."
> And yes. I am personally convinced that bringing poor people and immigrants with limited citizenship rights into perpetuating economic relation where they cannot make economic progress and mostly accumulate debt and obligations with limited social benefits is modern version of serfdom.
These companies don't set immigration policy so I'm not sure what you're trying to say in this paragraph. And besides, many citizens also drive for these companies. And most importantly, if they decide that there are better opportunities than Uber and Lyft they are free to take those opportunities. This isn't serfdom at all, it's objectively wrong to call it that. The defining feature of serfdom and slavery is that the workers do not have agency to decide their form of employment. Uber and Lyft drivers do. If a serf thinks they can make more money as a craftsman instead of as a farmer they are not allowed to change their jobs because they're a serf. If an Uber or Lyft driver decides they can make more money working the checkout counter at Safeway they have the agency to take up that opportunity because they're not slaves or serfs. Calling Uber and Lyft the "modern version of serfdom" either demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of these terms on your part, of it's a bald faced lie.
The point remains, comparing Uber and Lyft drivers to slaves is absolutely inane.
I do not intend to be deceptive. You have provided overly simplistic vision of slavery and I have provided some counterexamples.
> The opportunity to buy one's way to freedom was not the norm, and typically only skilled or educated slaves could aspire to do this. And, as the article mentioned, this could take a very long amount of time and its only something that skilled or educated slaves might aspire to achieve.
This seems to me like a vision of an American dream of sorts. Promise of social mobility for a choosen few members of lower class to become middle class.
The problem is that for the last 30 years American dream isn't working anymore. It is rather that middle class poeple are pushed in lower class ranks.
No you have not. You have selectively quoted parts of a Wikipedia article to portray Roman slavery as though slaves were treated well and had reliable paths to freedom. This is absolutely not the case, slaves had little to no protection and were subject to whim of their masters who could harm them without repercussion.
> This seems to me like a vision of an American dream of sorts. Promise of social mobility for a choosen [sic] few members of lower class to become middle class. The problem is that for the last 30 years American dream isn't working anymore. It is rather that middle class poeple are pushed in lower class ranks.
Sure. But how on Earth do you go from, "social mobility isn't as good as I would like" to "gig workers are comparable to slaves"? You're clearly reluctant to defend this statement, probably because you've realized how inane it really is.
It’s just a word that we sometimes use to describe certain kinds of superior-inferior relationships: master-servant, lord-peasant, employer-employee, landlord-tenant, etc.
Or how about debtpeon-bank?
You say “slavery” and you think of “black slavery”, but do you think of the ruthlessly exploited sharecropper?
How about the fresh-faced grad indentured to his debt for life?
The newlywed with the mortgage on the house that cost him 10x what it cost his father?
Slavery is closer than you think.