Tag Archives: unemployment

Uber CEO Wins Lie of the Week Award on Gig Workers Unemployment

New Orleans       In the Age of Trump, we biscuit cookers get used to hearing disassembling, tall tales, falsehoods, exaggerations, spin, or, not to mince words, lies, on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  These are dangerous days in the White House.  After many moons with a drought of press conferences, now there is one on a daily basis.  Trump now gives medical advice, second guesses the FDA on drug cures, and generally teeters around between trying to look serious while selling snake oil.  It’s hard to beat the president in any contest for big whopping lie-of-the-week.

Somehow, the CEO of Uber, the rule and regulation defying ride-hailing service has managed to do so.  The New York Times asked the CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, how they were handling all of their gig workers.   “…Suggesting that his hands were tied because Uber drivers are independent contractors,” he said, “This situation certainly demonstrates the downside of attaching basic protections to W-2 employment.”


We’re left with a choice in reading this lie.

Either he is stupid with a multi-million-dollar paycheck or we are stupid and left, like his employees, holding an empty bag.

Let’s fact check this lie.

Unemployment insurance is insurance paid equally by the worker and the employer.  Uber is trying to pretend that it is a “basic protection,” whatever that means, but let’s assume Uber thinks it means something like welfare.  Uber actually knows this full well, as does its CEO.  They refuse to pay it!! Furthermore, in states, like California where legislation has classified gig workers, like their tens of thousands of drivers as workers, they have challenged it in court.  Furthermore, they have refused to turn over employment and income data to the state required of every other employer.

Khosrowshahi knows this full well, underlining the fact that this is a lie and he thinks all of us are stupid.  The entire business model of Uber is based on not paying unemployment, social security, or anything else for its huge gig-force.  They flaunt the “basic protections,” no matter how minimal for workers around the world by continuing to pretend that his so-called “W-2 employment” is a government responsibility, rather than an employer mandate.  W-2 employment simply means acknowledging that you are the employer and your people are the workforce.  It’s not hard, except for scofflaws like Uber.

Inadvertently in lying to all of us, Uber is allowing even more of its business model to be exposed.  They want to rake in the money and leave the workers somewhere in the middle between on-their-own and the problem of the government.  Not enough work?  Not Uber’s problem, but the governments.  Too old to work and no social security paid for your labor, once again, not Uber’s problem, but something the government should sort out one fine day when the bill comes due in the future.  Uberites claim this is part of their libertarian Silicon Valley commitment, but it is the opposite.  They want a welfare state to allow them to make the money and take care of the workers while they keep the income the workers earn for them.

I’d love to see the fool pay back unemployment credits out of his own paycheck, but even he doesn’t make enough to do that.  Once again Uber has proven that it doesn’t play by the rules and doesn’t have any intention of ever doing so, whether it is run by the cowboy founder or Mr. Fix-it.

Tragically, Uber workers are paying for this lie instead, while the company cruises along continuing to assume it can tell all of us any cock-and-bull story it feels like, and we’ll swallow it whole.


Please enjoy A Little Soon To Say by Jackson Browne.

Thanks to WAMF.

2020 State Minimum Wages

Raising Minimum Wages, Good So Far

New Orleans       While much of the country is stuck at the level of the federal minimum wage, there are enough states and cities that have nudged the numbers up that economists and others are starting to be able to tell with certainty whether the competing claims are correct.  Opponents argue that raising wages above plantation level reduces the number of jobs.  Proponents, and I’m in that number, have claimed that the benefits of increasing wages, lowering inequality, and putting more money into local economies, wildly offsets any small job loss, if in fact, any jobs at all are lost.

Arindrajit Dube, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, did a study of state minimum wage increases in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York.  These states had bumped up the numbers in recent years to at least $10.50 per hour through 2018.  The impact would have been directly felt by 20% of the workforce, not counting the multiplier impact of increases for other workers in order to prevent compression of wages causing non-minimum wage workers to feel crimped and resentful of the increases.  Professor Dube found that the job losses were minimal, although not painless.  He found that some businesses raised prices, others improved production methodology, and some actually absorbed the increases by reducing their profit margins.

All of this is good news for our case.  Additional studies in New York State, as well as reporting by the New York Times, seem to confirm that even in the border counties between New York, with an escalating minimum wage now, and Pennsylvania still stuck at $7.25, there were minimal adverse impacts for workers on job losses.  Obviously, it helps that the economy has been good and unemployment low, making this an ideal time, economically, to push wages up from the bottom.

In the days of ACORN’s living wage campaigns, we have gone back and forth over the years with Professor David Neumark, an economist at the University of California at Irvine, who has long studied minimum wage impacts on workers.  He cautions that the results in these relatively higher wage states might not translate in the South “where low-wage workers aren’t evenly distributed across industries and ‘you have fewer and fewer avenues of adjustment.’”  Since there’s absolutely no immediate danger of Southern states getting the raise wages religion for workers, it will be awhile before we have to struggle with this problem.  Meanwhile we are forced to live through the galloping gap between lower wage and higher wage states that is occurring with no action on the federal minimum wage, meant to cope with this problem.

Now, if only the reason that wages weren’t rising was based on the facts, rather than stone cold ideology, we would be in good shape.