Seattle Council Member Says Jeff Bezos Should Improve Working Conditions for “Gig Economy” Contractors

Comments

1
Remember that time Kshama Sawant stood up to Microsoft and protected those contract employees?

Yeah, I don't either
2
@1:

And what have YOU done lately to protect anyone?
3
@2, more than you have

And guess what? I'm not an elected official
4
Lisa Herbold: So sick of that little grandstanding nobody getting all the attention. We do all the work and Ms Socialist prima donna is all anybody ever talks about. Well not this time! I'm going to take on Jeff motherfucking Bezos, and I'm getting results!

Slog: Remember that time Kshama Sawant...

Herbold: Ksahma, Kshama, Kshama! That's all I ever hear!
5
@3:

Yeah, we've all heard that one before: "I'm not an elected official" is just a rationalization for not doing anything, while at the same time complaining that someone else isn't doing enough. As for myself, enforcing contractual provisions that protect people at their place of work is actually part of my job description.
6
COMTE, I'm pointing my finger at you, you owe me a living!
7
What's stopping the city or county from passing an alternative minimum wage for part time workers?

Like, if you want people to get 31.5 hours per week to fall under the threshold for providing health care, you ought to pay those people $18 (or to be really punative, $20) per hour instead of $15 for full time workers.

Right now, businesses are still incentivized to have lots of people working part time they can swap around and have little obligation to. So turn the incentives around.
8
Although there are some who manage to get 40 hours hobbled together via excessive tapping (not typing) on the Amazon Flex app, most of us juggle this gig with other jobs. It is a bummer that we have to pay all our own taxes but it's made pretty clear that it's contract work. The recent change we Flex drivers are all facing now is they're offering up blocks that are only 1 to 1 1/2 hours long with the longer blocks of 2, 3 or 4 hours fewer and far between. Of course they're trying to save money but I think there are a lot of drivers like me who are not going for it. You could consider this a strike of sorts which they will have to address if they're not getting the drivers to deliver their goods in a timely manner to their Prime Now customers, ABC simple - supply and demand, but we shall see. Maybe they've got enough desperate people who can afford to spend considerably more hours than they're actually getting paid for trying to secure these short blocks.

As for SIS, the fact that they are non-union is really the issue here. They pay just as well or better than most security companies - a whopping $15.50, but SEIU wants that membership badly. Security companies all contract out their workers through property managers and pay via a standard payroll system with the minimum required benefits and vacation if you can work a full year to collect, but very little more We can thank the union bargaining for medical coverage before the ACA and the Seattle law for Safe and Sick time. When you're getting unfairly screwed at work it definitely helps to have a good union rep in your corner but as for wages, the union can't secure a livable wage at the bargaining table. Regular security guards are lucky to make $16 an hour and that's not near enough to live on in this town.
9
@6:

Okay, then. Please report to your nearest agricultural concern - they have a spot reserved for you in the lettuce field. If you prove incapable of successfully managing that simple livelihood, we'll try something a little less challenging - I think there's a strip club close-by in need of someone to hose down the Men's Room.
10
Seattle is getting Amazonitis. Whatever they feel is wrong, well, let's just blame Amazon. Those sis workers at Amazon have it pretty hard. Giving directions to a department or floor. Showing where the restroom is. "The elevators are that way ma'am". Telling the homeless to scram. Yea, being a guard in a Amazon building is pretty stressful. Phew, these work conditions here are tough. I'm gonna protest this shit!
11
@10:

As opposed to - ? Sitting on your ass all day long typing lines of Perlscript rote-memorized from learning to type code for a couple hours a day in an AS degree-level programming class? Yeah, that sounds absolutely BRUTAL.
12
Pass another new and novel ordinance. City attorney spokesman explained they do not have enough lawyers to defend the lawsuits connected filed against all the new legislation. And there are more challenges on the way.
13
Frankly I think Ms Herbold as well as the rest of her comrades at Silly Hall should pack it in.

We don't need the city council members telling private businesses how to run their operations... especially when they have much, much more pressing problems to attend to....drug addicts, poverty, infrastructure, affordable housing...etc.

We are not in short supply of complicated regulations heaped on business owners;

$15 Now
Sick Leave
Paternity Leave
Secure Scheduling.....and now this new demand.

Which is on top of an already burdensome, repetitive, onerous, complicated, costly and putative pile of Federal, State, County, City labor laws and regulations.

At some point, with all the Federal labor laws, unions, city regulations and demands, the small business owner is going to leave these lands or jack up the prices of goods, services, housing and the like even more to pay for all these "new wonderful regulations".

If these well paid "contractors" or employees don't like the working conditions, pay or situation...fold up your lap top and move along. Amazon isn't the only game in town or in the nation. Show us how mobile, flexible and astute you make yourselves out to be.

This isn't the 1900's with sweat shops in Dickensian England
14
@13:

And yet, many of the problems you cite are in some way directly related to the business climate. Private businesses (*cough!* Amazon *cough!*) bring tens of thousands of workers into the region, which puts stress on housing, infrastructure, public amenities, etc., etc., so some degree of regulation is needed simply to make sure these businesses are paying their fare share to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for public services from their own employees.

Furthermore, regulation in its most basic form isn't necessarily intended to protect the businesses themselves, but rather to ensure employees and consumers are protected from practices that may not be in the public interest. The idea that, if we just removed all restrictions on how businesses operate there would be some magical "invisible hand" that would compel them to self-regulate in a similar fashion is simply nonsense and has been disproven time and again in industries where such restrictions have been severely reduced or even eliminated. The fact that we have to fight for things like a liveable wage, paid sick and maternity leave and secure scheduling in the first place (issues that other industrialized countries have long ago settled) is de facto proof that most businesses won't in fact do the right thing by their employees and the citizens of the municipalities in which they're based unless compelled to do so; and the only effective mechanism workers and citizens have to collectively leverage that kind of influence is through government regulation.

As for the "if we don't get de-regulation of Industry X, we'll pack up and leave town!", that's an old, tired, and frankly specious argument not borne out by example or practice. If the business climate in Seattle were truly as oppressive as you infer, we'd see those small businesses leaving in droves - and yet, more new businesses seem to be springing up around here like so much fungus in a rain forest; and even Forbes Magazine, hardly a cheerleader for burdensome liberal do-gooderism, consistently ranks Seattle as one of the top cities in the country for starting up a small business. Why? Because, it's well understood that there's plenty of money to be made here, even in our current regulatory climate.

So, honestly, trying to blame local regulation for a purely hypothetical, not to mention thoroughly debunked, exodus of small businesses from the City is ridiculous. To paraphrase one of the late Yogi Berra's more notable malapropisms: "Nobody wants to open a small business in Seattle - it's too crowded!"
15
@14 Perhaps something more useful than your tiresome manifesto would be some actual experience in running a business. May I suggest starting with a a lemonade stand.

--First file for a business license.
--Then file for a tax ID number.
--Then file with Labor & Industries, Employment Security, The IRS, City B&O, Federal Unemployment.

--Next you need to go and get a site plan from the architect
--Then circulate that to the Seattle Dept of Planning and Inspection...wait for the red line review notes
--Then a copy goes to the King County Health Dept. --more red lines & reviews.

-- Then you are ready to hire your first employee.

a) $15/hour for a teenager to sell a glass of lemondae
b) Sick Time logging and documentation
c) Hopefully not maternity leave at this age...but you never know
d) Labor & Industry reporting
e) State Unemployment reporting
f) Federal Unemployment reporting
g) Oh I forgot ....three sets of forms for Homeland Security
h) Secure scheduling....hope you have a program for this...its very complicated.
i) Keep your records because you have to file two returns... business and your personal.
j) Social security reporting
k) W-4's and W-2 and filing of payroll taxes each pay period....figure minimum of two per month
l) track tips and add those to the w-2 and tax reporting.

No...your right, this is just petty, simple regulations....hardly noticeable to the lemonade stand vendor.

So, honestly, lets not blame regulations..

17
@15:

And how would the process you outline be significantly different in any other municipality? With the exception of one or two City-specific provisions, everything on your list would be required of a new startup business literally anywhere in the State. Again, new businesses are falling all over themselves to get started here in Seattle, and for one very simple reason that negates your entire line of reasoning: there are lots and lots of people where with oodles of money to spend on products and services. Only an absolute idiot would complain about how awful it is to do business here as compared to, oh, say, Forks or Walla Walla or Centralia.

Truth is, there's no Wild West, Randian free-market business paradise anywhere in the country where you wouldn't need to do almost all of this anyway - and most of those places are still going to have their own local regs, perhaps slightly different from here, but mostly not that much to deal with - so really you would just be trading one set of challenges for another. And yet, somehow, small business owners seem to be able to manage these just fine, so maybe the issue isn't too much regulation, but just that you don't really have much of a head for running your own business in the first place. There's no shame in that; we can't all be brilliant, successful entrepreneurs.

But hey, if things are so tough for you here that the only way you can make money is by denying your employees fair, living wages and benefits, then, please, by all means relocate to some remote corner of the State where you'll no doubt find plenty of people willing to work for $11.00 an hour with no paid sick leave or time off, and where your customer base will consist of the local yokels who themselves probably don't earn much more than that themselves. Yeah, you'll be raking in the big money in no time, guaranteed.
18
@17 I was just pointing out all the regulation already in place and the list is formidable.

Your point being the citizens need to be provide for from cradle to grave and that is somehow the responsibility of the employers. I'm not sure how or where this logic comes from. I thought it was the responsibility shared by all citizens.

Why not simply follow the European model....instead of putting all these "social burdens" on business owners, we just simply have higher income tax rates.

The workers "living wages, benefits, sick leave, paternity leave, health care" are all provided by the state and after taxes to pay for all of this you take home 1/2 a pay check.

But I guess you would not like this method.....you prefer that its paid by OPM... other people's money.