- On July 9 hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers gathered outside the California State Capitol for a rally about Assembly Bill 5, which would impact how the state determines if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.
- On Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the I’m Independent Coalition, a group who works closely with Uber and Lyft, offered to pay drivers to attend the rally against Assembly Bill 5.
- Drivers say they also received emails and in-app offers from Uber and Lyft if they attended the rally against the bill.
Drivers for Uber and Lyft say the ride-share companies offered incentives to workers that lobbied against a proposed bill that would allow drivers to be employees instead of independent contractors.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that drivers for Uber and Lyft who attended the July 9 rally outside California’s State Capitol were compensated for their “travel, parking and time.”
According to the report, an email from the I’m Independent Coalition was sent to drivers, offering them anywhere from $25 to $100 if they rallied on the group’s behalf. I’m Independent is a coalition that is funded by the California Chamber of Commerce and works to change the proposed legislation. According to their website, both Uber and Lyft are supporters of I’m Independent.
Following the rally, the LA Times says that another email was sent out, reassuring workers that their compensation would be sent over soon.
“We want to thank you again for taking time to attend the State Capitol Rally on July 9,” the email states. “Your voice had an impact and the Legislature heard loud and clear that you want to keep your flexibility and control over your work! Please expect a driver credit in the next five business days for your travel, parking, and time.”
I’m Independent later confirmed to the paper that the drivers who attended the rally had been paid.
However, the report says the coalition was not the only group offering vouchers and compensation for attending the rally. A Lyft spokesperson confirmed that the company had offered drivers $25 to help cover parking, while Uber sent a $15 lunch voucher through their app and told drivers it was for them, their families, “and anyone you know who also has a stake in maintaining driver flexibility.”
The rally outside of the state capitol was held ahead of a Senate labor hearing for Assembly Bill 5, a bill that states it “would provide that the factors of the “ABC” test be applied in order to determine the status of a worker as an employee or independent contractor.”
The “ABC” test comes from an April 2018 California Supreme Court case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. During that case, the Court ruled that in order to determine if a worker was an independent contractor, three qualifications must be met. According to court documents, those requirements are:
“(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact.”
“(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business,” and “(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.”
Under AB5, drivers for both Uber and Lyft would no longer be classified as independent contractors but instead employees. The main difference between an independent contractor and an employee is the regulations and requirements their employer must follow. If a worker is determined to be an employee, they receive things like sick pay, a required minimum wage, and a limit on the hours they can work.
However, Assembly Bill 5 states that certain occupations are exempted from the “ABC” test, such as health care professionals like doctors and dentists, among others.
In May, the bill passed in the state assembly in a 59 to 15 vote. Earlier this month the State Senate Committee on Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement voted the bill through.
Uber and Lyft on AB5
Uber has previously said the company will not take a side when it comes to the bill, but they do believe there are better solutions than Assembly Bill 5.
However, at the beginning of June, Uber sent an email to their drivers saying the bill could “threaten your access to flexible work with Uber.”
Lyft has taken a similar approach and also sent an email to its drivers, telling the workers that the ride-share company is trying to “protect” their jobs.
“Legislators are considering changes that could cause Lyft to limit your hours and flexibility, resulting in scheduled shifts,” the email, which was later shared by Lyft, states. “We’re advocating to protect your flexibility with Lyft, in addition to establishing an earning minimum, offering protections and benefits and giving drivers representation so that you have a voice in the company.”
Previous Responses to AB5
In May, Uber and Lyft drivers around the world went on strike asking for similar requirements employees receive, such as a minimum hourly wage. The strikes took place just three weeks before the state assembly voted and passed Assembly Bill 5 and advocated for similar requirements for drivers.
Even though the strikes did not create any massive change to the companies, according to a June 2019 Ipsos study, the majority of drivers from both Uber and Lyft still want “the same workers’ rights as those in more traditional employment positions.”
Assembly Bill 5 advanced to the appropriations committee earlier this month but the committees are currently in summer recess.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (International Business Times) (SF Gate)
Angled Toilet Designed to Shorten Employees’ Bathroom Breaks Met With Criticism
- A British company, StandardToilet, has filed a patent for a toilet fixture designed with a downward-sloping seat.
- The product is meant to be uncomfortable to sit on for more than five minutes, in an effort to reduce bathroom breaks and increase employee productivity.
- StandardToilet also says their product will reduce bathroom lines in public spaces and serve better for people’s health.
- The company’s idea has been supported by some, but largely slammed by others who claim it promotes an unhealthy expectation of workplace productivity and is inconsiderate to a range of users with differing needs.
A New Type of Toilet
A British startup has developed a toilet designed to be uncomfortable to sit on for longer than five minutes in an effort to increase workplace productivity.
StandardToilet has filed a patent for a toilet fixture with a seating surface sloped forward between 11-13 degrees. The company claims that this design will decrease the time that employees spend taking bathroom breaks, thus allowing them to devote more minutes to work.
“In modern times, the workplace toilet has become private texting and social media usage space,” StandardToilet says on their website.
The company estimates that about £16 billion ($20.8 billion) are lost annually to the time that people are spending using the bathroom at work in the U.K. They claim that reducing time spent sitting on the toilet will save about £4 billion of that sum.
Mahabir Gill, the founder of StandardToilet, told Wired that sitting on the angled fixture for more than five minutes will cause strain on the legs, but “not enough to cause health issues.”
“Anything higher than that would cause wider problems,” Gill said. “Thirteen degrees is not too inconvenient, but you’d soon want to get off the seat quite quickly.”
StandardToilet says that in addition to increasing employee productivity, their design will shorten bathroom lines in public places such as shopping malls and train stations.
They also claim studies have suggested that flat-surfaced toilets used now can cause medical issues, like swollen haemorrhoids and weakening of pelvic muscles. The company says its product can reduce musculoskeletal disorder “through promoting the engagement of upper leg muscles.”
Response to StandardToilet
While news of the proposed time-saving toilet has been supported by some, like the British Toilet Association (BTA), an organization that campaigns for better toilet facilities, it was also largely met with criticism. Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler, an assistant professor of design history at Purdue University in Indiana, expressed that the idea is a bit controlling.
“In an office, the one space you have where you can find privacy is often the toilet,” Kaufmann-Buhler told Wired. “So, god forbid that we want to make the one place where workers should have at least some autonomy – the toilet – another place where people impose the very capitalist idea that people should always be working.”
Kaufmann-Buhler’s sentiment was echoed across Twitter, where people were upset by StandardToilet’s motive.
Pls explain to me how this isn’t abuse of employees. I’m actually a manager and I don’t see how taking a 7 or 8 minute dump is a problem. Also what if your sick? Or on a break?— don capone (@ucantcme13) December 18, 2019
Hey gotta squeeze every second of productivity out of your worker bees. God forbid they should have a few moments to themselves.— second nature (@second_nature) December 19, 2019
Others pointed out the discomfort StandardToilet’s design would bring to those with physical disabilities.
The company told HuffPost in an email that the product isn’t designed to take the place of toilets for people with disabilities. StandardToilet’s website also notes that another benefit of the slanted toilet is “reduction in overspill usage of disabled facilities.”
Nadine Vogel is the CEO of Springboard Consulting, a company that works with other businesses on how to serve workers with disabilities. She noted to HuffPost that there are other kinds of hindrances that might justify more time in the bathroom.
Vogel brought up examples of diabetic people testing their glucose levels or others simply needing a break for their mental health.
“The fact that the concern is extended employee breaks ― well, what about people that have some kind of mental health situation that actually need that kind of longer break?” Vogel said.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Guardian) (Wired)
Pinkwashing: The Dark Side of the Breast Cancer Awareness Industry Explained…
Chances are you’ve seen a handful of breast cancer awareness campaigns throughout the years from the pink ribbon slapped on NFL footballs to your favorite yogurt brand changing their packing to pink every October, which is breast cancer awareness month. But did you know that there are many pink ribbon products that contain chemicals linked to cancer?
Breast cancer activists call this phenomenon pinkwashing and it’s been happening for years. Whether it be a carcinogenic chemical found in pink ribbon perfume to pink ribbons found on alcohol, a known risk factor for breast cancer, pinkwashing touches many industries. In this deep dive, we’re going to look at why companies want to pinkwash and why it has changed how people around the world participate in breast cancer awareness campaigns.
Pinterest, The Knot, and Brides Will No Longer Promote Plantation Weddings
- Pinterest and The Knot, popular sites used for wedding planning, agreed to stop promoting content and venues that romanticize slave plantations.
- The decision was made after the civil rights advocacy group Color of Change penned a letter to the companies explaining the pain and insensitivity behind glamorizing properties once used to brutalize people.
- Brides magazine has since also agreed to enact a similar policy, though sites like Zola said promoting such content does not violate their discrimination policy.
Criticism of Plantation Weddings
Two of the biggest internet platforms used for wedding content and planning, Pinterest and The Knot, are changing their policies to stop promoting any wedding content that romanticizes slave plantations.
Plantation weddings have become very common in the wedding industry, however, they are often criticized for glorifying sites that were once used to enslave and brutalize millions of black people.
Celebrities like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds still face criticism for hosting their 2012 wedding at Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina. In addition to being a popular wedding venue, the property also offers history tours of its original slave cabins.
Other venues have been blasted for using decorative language that critics say minimizes the painful history of the locations. For instance, some properties have been described as “breathtaking” scenes with an “elaborate past,” or were said to have “a touch of southern charm.”
The decision to implement policy changes comes at the urging of the civil rights advocacy group Color of Change. The group sent letters to Pinterest and the Knot Worldwide, which owns The Knot and Wedding Wire, asking the companies to stop promoting plantations altogether.
“The decision to glorify plantations as nostalgic sites of celebration is not an empowering one for the Black women and justice-minded people who use your site,” the letter, reviewed by Buzzfeed News, read.
“Plantations are physical reminders of one of the most horrific human rights abuses the world has ever seen,” the letter continued. “The wedding industry routinely denies the violent conditions Black people faced under chattel slavery by promoting plantations as romantic places to marry.”
Pinterest responded to the letter with their own announcement, saying, “Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things. We are grateful to Color of Change for bringing attention to this disrespectful practice. We are working to limit the distribution of this content and accounts across our platform, and continue to not accept advertisements for them.”
Pinterest has already started moderating and limiting plantation wedding content on its platform that appeared in search recommendations and notifications. It is also working to de-index Google searches for plantation weddings that direct to their site.
Users call still search “plantation weddings” and similar terms on the site but they will be warned that some of the results may violate the site’s policies.
Meanwhile, the Knot said it was working with Color of Change to prohibit vendors on its sites “from using language that romanticizes or glorifies a history that includes slavery.” Vendors who do not follow that rule will be removed, the company said.
“Color of Change brought an issue to light about the way venues with a history of slavery describe their properties to couples,” the Knot said in a statement. “We’re grateful to Color of Change for bringing this issue to us and for partnering with us to help educate our vendors on how to respectfully market their businesses to all couples.”
The Knot clarified that plantations will still be able to list themselves as venues. Their new guidelines are simply designed to ensure that vendors aren’t using language such as “elegant” or “charming” when referencing history that includes slavery.
The language policy will apply to all venues listed on the Knot, not just ones that market themselves as plantations. A representative from the Knot told Buzzfeed New, “You can imagine there could be former plantations that maybe have changed their names to manors or farms.”
The Knot’s new guidelines are expected to be officially released in the next few weeks as they continue to comb through the current vendors listed on their site.
Color of Change Reached Out to Other Wedding Content Giants
Along with the Knot and Pinterest, Color of Change also sent letters to Zola, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Brides. The group said they specifically called on these platforms to make a change because millions of couples turn to them for not only wedding inspiration but also information about potential vendors.
Color of Change also argued that because these wedding planning platforms don’t profit directly from weddings themselves, they might be more motivated to hear their concerns.
A spokesperson for Color of Change called Pinterest and the Knot’s efforts an “extremely massive step.” Following the news of two platform’s changes, the spokesperson added that Brides also reached out and requested a meeting.
Brides later issued a statement to Bustle saying, “Brides is an inclusive place where everyone can feel celebrated. Content glorifying plantations is not in line with our core values. We have removed these references and are actively working with Color of Change to evolve our guidelines to help ensure all our couples are supported, respected and inspired.”
As for the other platforms, in a statement to BuzzFeed News, Emily Forrest, a communications manager for Zola responded with: “After reviewing this complaint we determined it did not violate our non-discrimination policy. While we may not always agree with couples on all of their wedding details, we also respect their right to choose where and how they want to get married.”
As of now, Martha Stewart Weddings has not responded to the letter.