Worker Info Exchange: Uber’s Anti Fraud Systems and the Failure of Human Review
A new report from Worker Info Exchange examines the issue of drivers who are dismissed from Uber because the company's geolocation data finds that they are fraudulently placing two drivers on the same app. Oftentimes, this is not the case, and drivers are simply logging in from an alternate work phone, allowing a family member to use an alternate phone under their name, or experiencing technical glitches. The report examines the case of one driver, specifically, who was suspended in late 2020 despite having a rating of 4.97 and completing over 15,000 trips. In his case, it appears he was dismissed over a technical glitch. Though the company says it employs human review to protect against these situations, this data suggests that may not be the case.
Bloomberg: Amazon Will Hire 75,000 Logistics Workers in Latest Hiring Binge
After hiring approximately 500,000 logistics workers last year to meet the increased demand for online delivery, Amazon announced Thursday that it would be hiring another 75,000 workers in North America. These workers will receive $100 if they're vaccinated, receive a starting pay of $17 an hour, and be eligible for up to $1000 in signing bonuses. The company currently employs 1.3 million people.
Axios: Apple Parts Ways with Employee Amid Backlash
The hiring of Antonio Garcia Martinez spurred an online backlash Wednesday after employees discovered disparaging things he says about women in his new book "Chaos Monkeys." In the book, he describes Bay Area women "weak" and "naive," amongst other things. The incident is particularly remarkable because, compared to other tech giants like Facebook and Google, Apple employees rarely organize. Apple confirmed to Axios that Garcia Martinez no longer worked for the company Wednesday afternoon.
Reuters: Gig-Economy Riders in Spain Must Become Staff Within 90 Days Under New Rule
The Spanish government approved new rules Tuesday that require food delivery companies to employ their couriers as staff within the next three months. Uber criticized the decision, saying that the regulation "will directly hurt thousands of couriers who use food delivery apps for much-needed flexible earnings opportunities and made it clear they do not want to be classified as employees." Riders associations and Labor experts, on the other hand, say an even more stringent law may be necessary to completely resolve their legal situation.
#StopAsianHate: We Need to Talk About What It Means to Be ‘White-Adjacent’ in Tech
"It's that mix of privilege and exclusion that gives us just enough power to speak up but not enough to gain equitable access to opportunities and safety" write Block Party co-founder Tracy Chou and Project Include Co-founder and CEO Ellen K. Pao in a new Medium article for the #StopAsianHate campaign. The essay examines the role of Asians in tech, describing how the community is both overrepresented in tech generally but underrepresented in positions of executive power. During the pandemic, Asian tech workers have faced significantly more harassment than their counterparts because of rising anti-Asian racism. Pao and Chou encourage the AAPI community to find solidarity with other ethnic groups while fighting for the better treatment of AAPIs in tech and in the US more broadly.
Insider: Read the Essay Shopify’s CEO Sent to Managers to Remind Them They Are a Sports Team, Not a Family. It Shows the Growing Tension Between Leaders and Employees in the Corporate World.
The role of politics in the workplace has become a hot topic in tech news in recent months, mainly because of controversial opinions shared by both Coinbase and Basecamp's CEOs. In separate statements, the companies have said that that politics should be prohibited in the workplace, including the discussion of some DEI issues. A January email sent by Shopify's CEO to company managers now shows how another company chose to approach political speech. The email, albeit significantly less inflammatory than statements from Coinbase or Basecamp, still encourages workers to avoid "Slack trolling, victimhood thinking, us-vs-them divisiveness, and zero sum thinking." Controversy at the company had started when employees expressed concern over the company's use of a noose emoji on Slack, as well as a training video titled "Ten Slack Commandments" after The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Ten Crack Commandments." In response, CEO Tobi Lutke had initially just switched the company's diversity Slack channel to read-only settings. This email shows the CEO took further steps to quiet political speech that went previously unreported.
The Wall Street Journal: Google Plans to Double AI Ethics Research Staff
In a speech at the Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival, Vice President of Engineering Marian Croak said she will be expanding the size of the responsible AI team to 200 researchers. She began leading the AI ethics team in February after Google fired co-leads Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell.
Wired: Black and Queer AI Groups Say They’ll Spurn Google Funding
In a joint statement released Monday May 10, Black in AI, Queer in AI, and Widening NLP all said they would no longer take funding from Google. The move is in response to the firing of Ethical AI co-leads Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, as well as the firing of recruiter April Christina Curley. Queer in AI is also raising issue with a discriminatory renaming process for academic papers listed on Google that often ignores requests from trans and nonbinary people who are misgendered. Though the three groups don't have formal policies on when to revoke sponsorship, it's the first time that any of them has rejected a corporate sponsor.
Bloomberg: Didi Vows to Improve Drivers’ Pay, Users’ Fares After Criticism
Public and state media in China began criticizing the ride-hailing company last week because the cost of rides was increasing while drivers wages were decreasing. In response, Didi Chuxing said they would improve its driver payment structure. According to a company statement, drivers take home about 79% of what customers pay.
Bloomberg: Amazon Warehouse Worker Dies in Bessemer, Alabama
At the same Amazon warehouse site where workers attempted to form a union in defense of better conditions earlier this year, an Amazon worker has collapsed and died. The worker was sent to the hospital last Thursday after he was found in a warehouse bathroom.
Insider: Google’s Childcare Workers are Furious About the Company Ordering Them Back Into the Office Without Paying Their Transportation Costs
Google has ordered childcare workers back to the office starting today, despite the fact that company shuttles have not restarted regular operations. The company is only moving corporate employees back to a "hybrid" model this September, and the company has gotten a lot of press in recent weeks for the accommodation's it's making to ensure those employees feel comfortable when they return. Childcare workers have therefore started a petition asking Google leadership for a $1500 a month transportation stipend, saying it's the least they could do considering how far many employees live from the Google campus, the short notice, and the fact that most workers only make $20 per hour.
Bloomberg: Coinbase Plans to Close Its San Francisco Headquarters in 2022
The announcement isn't a huge surprise, given that CEO Brian Armstrong announced last year that the company would be "remote first." Their San Francisco office was at risk of becoming an "unofficial HQ," according to a company statement. Decentralization is crucial to cryptocurrency, and it appears that same mentality is being reflected on the way Coinbase employees work.
Vice: Amazon Drivers are Instructed to Drive Recklessly to Meet Delivery Quotas
A new safety app Amazon is requiring delivery drivers to download monitors drivers speed and whether they appear distracted. However, drivers often must exceed safe speed limits to meet their delivery quotas, and also say that the app sometimes marks small things like moving the phone a little as "distracted driving." According to texts obtained by Vice, some dispatchers are instructing drivers to turn off the app so that they can meet the company's delivery quotas.
East County Today: Senator Levya’s “Silenced No More Act” Clears Senate
California Senate Bill 331 would expand California's existing prohibition of broad confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses to cases where workers are required to sign them as part of a severance agreement. Former Pinterest employee Ifeoma Ozoma, who alleged racial and gender discrimination against the company, is co-leading the legislation with Senator Levya.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."