Workers’ rights groups that have been mobilizing and strategizing over how to react to the passage last year of Proposition 22 criticized a move announced this week by Albertsons, Safeway’s parent company, to eliminate hundreds of grocery delivery positions in California and replace them with gig workers from DoorDash.
Proposition L, a tax measure on the November ballot, is intended to give businesses incentive to change their pay structure to bring executive compensation more in line with workers’. Revenue from the measure, if passed, is expected to range from $60 million to $140 million a year.
Uber and Lyft were expected to shut down service at 11:59 p.m. tonight as a court ruling forcing them to reclassify drivers as employees was set to go into effect. With just hours to spare, an appeals court judge granted the companies a reprieve. “Civic” spoke with two drivers who want employee protections.
As workers head back to their jobs, they are navigating the new workplace safety reality of operating in a global pandemic. Labor organizers say the protections against catching the novel coronavirus on the job are insufficient at many workplaces, and lack enforcement. They allege that California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, is critically short-staffed. Erika Monterroza, a spokesperson for Cal/OSHA, said in an email the staff shortage doesn’t keep the agency from meeting its mandate. “We believe that this agency is not doing what it should be doing.
Drivers for Uber and Lyft staged a car caravan and rally outside Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s home last week to protest their classification as contractors despite a California law, AB5, which the state says defines such drivers as employees. “It’s personal for me, it’s personal for all these drivers, because our lives are directly affected by it,” said driver Edan Alva. “My ability to pay for my son’s health insurance, my ability to put food on the table, all these drivers’ ability to exist in a balanced way, in a dignified way, where they live, is dependent on labor protections.”
Cherri Murphy. Laura Wenus / Public Press
The drivers, affiliated with groups including Gig Workers Rising and We Drive Progress, were also there to call on Uber to withdraw support for a ballot measure backed by Uber, Lyft and DoorDash that would exempt drivers for these services from AB5’s requirements. The measure, which will be on the November 2020 ballot, would also require that drivers be paid more than minimum wage and would require health care coverage for drivers who work at least 15 hours per week.
The United States Postal Service is running out of money — the agency requested $75 billion in emergency funding in April, saying it would be out of money by September. Lower demand for its services and the health impacts of the pandemic have hit the agency hard, and legislators had planned to give the postal service $25 billion in the CARES Act. But the Trump administration blocked the funding. The postal service does have access to $10 billion in loans, but Donald Trump has suggested that the postal service should raise its prices. Louis DeJoy, a longtime Trump supporter and fundraiser, took over as the US Postmaster this month.
The coronavirus pandemic has cost millions their jobs, and that means many tenants haven’t been able to pay rent, landlords have had trouble making mortgage payments and other bills are also stacking up. Debts can be sold to collections agencies, and even keep renters from accessing affordable housing.
An estimated 3 million people work on farms in the United States every year to raise and harvest the nation’s produce. The meat and poultry industry is estimated to employ another half million. Working conditions in both industries tend to be harsh, and many workers have limited access to health care to begin with.
California doled out a record $4.4 billion in jobless benefits last week, more than triple the amount it paid out the previous week, data from the state’s Employment Development Department shows. In the week ending April 25, the state disbursed $1.4 billion in benefit payments.
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Nonprofits that serve people who need emergency help with their rent are seeing requests surge from a new class of clients — those who were previously financially secure but have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. But red tape is complicating their efforts to help the newly jobless, the groups say.
A group of Stanford-affiliated volunteers has set out to develop a tool to make accessing financial support, whether public or private, easier. The project, called Healthier Finance, is part of Stanford’s COVID-19 Response Innovation Lab, in which volunteers from a broad range of disciplines including medicine, business and media hope to collaborate to create technology and systems that are needed during the pandemic.