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An independent news site for, and about, the most powerful workforce on earth.

Techworker Podcast: Sarah Lacy and Femily

In this week's episode, Sarah Lacy talks to Femily - aka Emily Howe - about how (and if) companies should bring their employees back to the office.

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Welcome to Techworker

What we do

Techworkers are powerful. In recent months they’ve forced change on harassment, discrimination, election interference and countless other shady business practices inside the world’s richest companies. When they speak, CEOs panic.

From the senior engineer at Facebook to the Amazon warehouse contractor, TECHWORKER‘s mission is to tell the stories of the people toiling to deliver on Silicon Valley’s promises, for good or ill.

Join our community and receive exclusive newsletters and podcasts, access to events, and even a framed portrait in our newsroom to remind us who’s really in charge.

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Listen to our new podcast hosted by co-founders Paul Bradley Carr and Dan Raile!

In last week’s episode, Paul and Dan discussed Amazon's success in crushing the effort by union workers in Alabama. Also: It was a tough week for Google, Uber, and Deliveroo.. Subscribe to the Techworker podcast in your favorite podcast app.

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The News Feed

Protocol: Amazon’s Non-Compete Agreement ‘Unfairly Handcuffed’ Her: How One Manager is Pushing Back

Charlotte Newman first came forward about harassment and discrimination at Amazon in early March. However, many may be surprised to know that she is still working for the company whilst suing them, because the company's non-compete agreements would keep her from taking on any similar positions for 18 months. Though non-compete agreements are uncommon in most of Silicon Valley because California does not enforce them, tech workers in other major hubs, like Seattle, are still vulnerable.

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1 hour ago

Bloomberg: Amazon Work Rules Govern Tweets, Body Odor of Contract Drivers

Despite the fact that they drive Amazon-branded vehicles, Amazon delivery drivers work for independent businesses contracted to deliver packages for the company. Amazon has exacting rules for these drivers, including strict personal grooming policies, mandated surveillance, and social media restrictions. Yet, they also claim to not be liable in the case of accidents or driver misconduct, expecting smaller companies to shoulder the blame. Legal experts say this relationship may be unlawful, and expect the Biden administration to examine it closely. Skeptics, however, point out that the Biden administration appointed an Obama administration veteran who wrote a book outlining arguments companies like Amazon use in court.

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1 hour ago

Bloomberg: Uber Says Costs to Recruit Drivers Will Weigh on Results

Uber stocks took a hit Wednesday evening after Uber said spending to recruit drivers back to the platform will make it harder to reach their goal of profitability by the end of the year. Uber said last month that it would be spending $250 million on bonuses and other incentives, and said in the earnings call that this spending increased costs in the first quarter. It's adjusted lost was $359 million.

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2 hours ago

Reuters: Uber, Lyft Have a California Playbook to Fight Proposed U.S. Rules on Workers

As appointments within the Biden administration forecast a new effort to reclassify app-based workers as employees, companies like Uber and Lyft will likely turn to a lobbying playbook that proved successful when California voters passed Proposition 22. Amongst the most successful strategies from gig companies Prop 22 campaign included mass texts, emails, mailings, and push-notifications targeting app-based workers, threatening to end ubiquitous food-delivery and ride-hail services, and heavy advertising. Companies banded together last winter to form the App-Based Work Alliance, which is now promoting the statements of workers who say they want to remain independent contractors and do not support the PRO Act.

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Bloomberg: Lyft Loss Narrower Than Estimates as Riders Start to Return

Lyft said that rider demand is rebounding significantly in a quarterly results announcement Tuesday. Airport rides alone were up 65% in April compared with January of this year, and earnings are beating analyst estimates by $143 million. Lyft has been offering additional driver incentives in recent weeks in an effort to meet demand.

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SEC: Trillium Asset Management Files Proxy Memo in Support of Proposal to Adopt Whistleblower Protections

The memo urges for a third-party review analyzing whistleblower policies at the company because of what Trilliam Asset Management calls multiple "red flags," in recent months. These "red flags" include the firings of Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell of the Google Ethical AI Team, the formation of the Alphabet Workers Union, and media reports of sexism and racism in the workplace. Trilliam Asset Management asserts that these "red flags" are "threatening the company's reputation and it's ability to attract top-tier talent and posing a human rights risk."

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AfroTech: Black Employees Leaving Slack at Alarming Rates Forces the Company to Address Diversity Issues

Slack revealed in an annual diversity report that only 4.5% of their workforce is Black, and that its diversity numbers are actually getting worse over time. Though Slack says they aren't sure why they're losing so many Black employees, it has launched a set of business development tools for Black employees, is offering dedicated mental health support, and is partnering with Raheem, a nonprofit focused on eliminating police brutality, by paying the salary for a new engineering role.

Yael Eisenstat: Tech CEO to Workforce: Shut Up, Get Back to Work, and Ignore Those Annoying Critics

In a recent Medium post, Techworker advisor Yael Eisenstat discusses how Basecamp founders' new rules on political discussion are in some ways symptomatic of a larger problem in tech culture. Though Basecamp doesn't have the same potential to cause societal harm as her former workplace, Facebook, she believes that the Basecamp founders are influential enough to spark a trend throughout the tech industry, as evidenced by the support of Coinbase's Brian Armstrong. She also compares the new rules at Facebook to behavior she saw exhibited while at Facebook, where she says she had difficulty thoroughly dissecting problems and the product's consequences on society because of a resistance from her manager.

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Thomson Reuters Foundation Long Reads: Risks for South Africa’s Food Couriers Surge During the Pandemic

Road accidents involving food couriers in South Africa jumped 30% during the pandemic, according to data obtained by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 70-95% of a total 6,400 active food delivery drivers in the country are migrants, many of whom traveled to the country for work over the last 15 months. Categorized as independent contractors, these workers are mostly ineligible for protections like workers compensation or overtime pay.

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Insider: IBM Is Hunting for a Smaller NYC Office Now That 80% of its Employees Won’t Come In Every Day. It’s a Sign of the Times.

Vice President of Enterprise Operations for IBM, Joanne Wright, told Insider that the company was searching for a 300,000 square foot office space in Manhattan — a 40% reduction from the 500,000 square feet they said they were seeking last summer. The change is a sign that IBM is serious about their commitment to remote work.

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