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Friday, April 1, 2016

No Joke, Gig Economy Is Bust; Can It Be Fixed?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 12:10 PM

  • Flickr/Carlos Maya
If you’re reading this while riding in Prank Mode with Lyft, rest assured we’re not fooling you. This is all too real for millions of people working in benefits-less jobs: The much celebrated, "independent contractor"-reliant on-demand economy that brought us such “innovations” as Uber, Lyft, SpoonRocket, TaskRabbit, and way too many others was just a paper tiger for traditional business, now fraying at the edges.

That’s the conclusion in two recent op-eds from national media that focus on a very local quagmire for San Francisco. One is a searing op-ed published by The Huffington Post today from journalist and author Steven Hill that blasts the hubris of startup mentality. It comes in response to a column last week from New York Times tech cheerleader Farhad Manjoo lamenting how services from the self-described “sharing economy” are no longer cheap as dirt.

Both pieces highlight that this more and more expensive trend makes the services less and less attractive.

But who are the real victims in all this?

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Governor to Announce $15 Minimum Wage; Will It Pass?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 12:29 PM

  • Flickr/The All-Nite Images
In just a few minutes, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to announce at a news conference a plan to raise California's minimum wage to $15 an hour — the highest in the nation — by 2022. 

Not even inked, not even past the state Legislature — where moderate Democrats and Republicans both from places like the manual labor-reliant Central Valley must be brought on board — the deal is already being hailed by liberals and labor leaders as a major victory.

Though places like San Francisco will see a $15 minimum wage sooner, by 2018 — and an even higher wage after that, based on the consumer price index — the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 for six years. And raising the minimum wage has been a sticking point on the campaign trail for Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — the latter of whom has called for a $15 federal minimum wage by 2020. 

All in all, a good day for the worker — that is, if the $15 plan moves forward at all. And even if it does, there's a loophole for Brown or for his successor to use should California's economy falter.  

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

S.F. Sheriffs Want to Be Paid to Get Dressed (Just Like Some Cops)

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

  • Looking good.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors quietly approved a $1.3 million settlement with supervisors in the Sheriff’s Department over an unfair labor practices complaint.

At issue for members of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Managers and Supervisors Association union — which includes sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and chief deputy sheriffs, collectively known as supervisors — was uncompensated time spent getting ready for their shifts every day.

This includes preparing for and holding meetings at the beginning and end of their shifts, along with changing into and out of their uniforms.

The latter issue, commonly called donning and doffing uniforms, has been challenged in courts in recent years as law enforcement officers nationwide have attempted to collect back pay for this function of the job — with sporadic success.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Airbnb Employees Appreciate the Company's "Deep Sense of Humility and Passion"

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 12:40 PM

  • Photo: Shutterstock/Illustration: SF Weekly

After a year of intense political skirmishes and PR gaffes in San Francisco, short-term home rental platform Airbnb has been named the country’s best place to work, according to career website

What with the Proposition F campaign and Airbnb’s roundly condemned passive-aggressive charm offensive, as well as having its HQ stormed by housing activists, it’s been a rough year for the company locally. Behind the corporate walls, however, it’s apparently a Shangri-La of delicious free eats and the kind of people often described as "the smartest in the room."  

Also, to quote just one of the company’s anonymous Glassdoor reviews, Airbnb is an “open-minded workplace with a deep sense of humility and passion” — neither of which was on public display this year.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Airbnb Using "Uber for Temps" to Staff No on Prop. F Campaign

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 2:24 PM

Anti-Prop. F rhetoric is growing increasingly hyperbolic - COURTESY @EPARILLON/TWITTER
  • Courtesy @eparillon/Twitter
  • Anti-Prop. F rhetoric is growing increasingly hyperbolic

Short-term rental platform Airbnb likes to distinguish itself from Uber. While the ride-hail platform appears to enjoy its asshole reputation (laughing all the way to a $50 billion valuation), Airbnb prefers to talk about community and belonging. Uber smirks; Airbnb smarms. 

But both companies are deeply rooted in the "on-demand economy" ethos of dismantling the way we previously did something (find temporary lodging/hail a cab) and rebuilding a new system with distributed networks of service providers and low institutional overhead and liability. 

So it's perhaps not surprising that Airbnb, which is funding (and staffing) the No on Proposition F campaign to the tune of $8.3 million, is tapping the self-described "Uber for work" — Wonolo — to man the campaign. 

According to campaign finance filings, No on Prop. F paid $10,544 to Wonolo from September 20 to October 17. That money was split up between 45 "campaign workers" who were each paid anywhere from $16 to $762 total. Several of the workers are listed as living as far away as Pinole, Martinez, and San Jose. 

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Airbnb and Uber Executives Sued for Sexual Harassment and Wage Theft by Former Live-In Domestic Worker

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 12:20 PM

Julieta Yang announced her lawsuit at a press conference today.
  • Julieta Yang announced her lawsuit at a press conference today.
A former live-in domestic worker for two San Francisco tech executives filed suit against her former employers today, alleging sexual harassment and wage theft.

A complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court alleges that Cameron Poetzscher, the head of corporate development for Uber, and Varsha Rao, the head of global operations for Airbnb, subjected Julieta Yang to a "sexually hostile work and home environment" and failed to pay her the minimum wage and overtime.

A 45-year-old mother of three from the Philippines who worked for Rao and Poetzscher, a married couple, for seven years, Yang announced her lawsuit at a press conference at the Bayanihan Community Center this morning.

"God will help me in this fight," she said. "I know there are many others like me in this city." 

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Uber Worker Classification Lawsuit Gets More Complicated with Appeal to NLRB

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 8:06 AM

  • mikedotta /

The attorney representing Uber drivers in the class action lawsuit challenging drivers' classification as independent contractors filed charges against the $50 billion dollar company with the National Labor Relations Board today.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, who has filed similar class action lawsuits against numerous "sharing economy" companies (including Lyft, Postmates, Caviar, and, yesterday, DoorDash and GrubHub), is charging that an arbitration agreement Uber has required drivers to sign since June 2014 violates the National Labor Relations Act.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DoorDash and GrubHub Are Latest On-Demand Companies Sued over Independent Contractor Classification

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 3:31 PM

  • DoorDash
Class action lawsuits were filed against on-demand delivery companies DoorDash and GrubHub in California state court today. The lawsuits allege that DoorDash and GrubHub are misclassifying delivery drivers as independent contractors instead of direct employees. 

The suits were filed in San Francisco by labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan. Liss-Riordan is also pursuing class action lawsuits over independent contractor classification against Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. On September 1, a judge granted Uber drivers class action status in Liss-Riordan's suit. The Uber suit is the furthest along in the legal process of all the sharing economy worker classification lawsuits.

"The facts of all of these cases are so similar," Liss-Riordan said of her numerous lawsuits against "sharing economy" companies. "There are minor variations here and there, but really they’re all just copying each other and thinking they can get away with it."

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Postmates Couriers Make Less Than Half the Advertised $25 Per Hour Wage

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 4:08 PM

  • Screenshot/

If you've ever considered working as a delivery driver or bike courier for Postmates, the on-demand delivery service that started in San Francisco and, as of yesterday, has expanded to 40 major metropolitan markets, you were probably tempted by their job listings boasting of earnings "up to $25+/hour." 

Postmates, which has raised a total of $58 million in venture capital, plasters that $25+/hour figure everywhere. (UPDATE: a Postmates social media staffer points out that the company has actually raised $138 million in venture capital.) Here's the Postmates job application website:

  • Screenshot/
And here's a current look at Craigslist ads for couriers in the San Francisco Bay Area:


If you open one of those Craigslist job postings, you'll find more graphics with the "up to $25/hour" promises, plus this fine print, promising that, "Wages quoted are based on actual current courier earnings in each city." 


That sounds great, and as SF Weekly reported in April, the promise of $25/hour has been a major factor in many workers deciding to sign on with the startup. Except, according to recent court filings, the actual average wage for a Postmates courier is $9.23/hour. 

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    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"