California is cracking down on the gig economy
June 3, 2019 8:03 PM   Subscribe

This is awesome. I can't believe these companies were allowed to get away with that transparently false "independent contractor" bullshit for so long.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:33 PM on June 3 [10 favorites]

A tiny ray of light among all the bullshit news.
posted by greermahoney at 9:35 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

This is amazing! Will it apply to delivery (eg Fedex) so-called independent contractors too?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:04 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

The idea of them being independent contractors was always ludicrous. "But they set their own hours!" said Uber and Lyft. Yeah, but they didn't pick their customers nor set their prices. They don't even know the details of a job before they have to decide whether to accept it.

And while the article is all about Uber and Lyft because those are the currently trendy gig employees, the law would also protect exotic dancers; yay!
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:32 AM on June 4 [16 favorites]

I wonder if this applies to the educational sector. One of the big secrets of academia is that most doctoral students are paid as independent contractors, which is a total scam. Given the nature of their work, they are anything but independent contractors.

I'm really glad to see this regulation making its way through the system. It's sorely needed.
posted by sockermom at 3:53 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]

One of the big secrets of academia is that most doctoral students are paid as independent contractors,

Wait, really? My doctorate is only ten years old and I have not encountered this.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 4:25 AM on June 4

Yes, at least at R1 universities I've worked in and at the R1s my colleagues have been in. My PhD is 5 years old, and this was standard practice across similar universities during my social science doctorate. It is also standard in the department where I'm now faculty. This may be different at institutions where graduate students are unionized, or in departments that have different funding structures; but in my experience, doctoral students are classified as independent contractors and receive a 1099-MISC for tax purposes.
posted by sockermom at 4:43 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Whenever I get a 1099-MISC I just go out and buy a pro Mac. Problem solved!
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 5:00 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Background checks and taxi medallions ( and the associated training ) are next?

Employee protections are great, but they don't get to have it both ways.
posted by vincentmeanie at 7:01 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]

I’ve seen far more grad students get 1098-T rather than 1099-misc. It’s a way of avoiding payroll tax by considering wages as tuition rather than paying an employee, and it’s still a little shady but not nearly as bad from a tax perspective for the students, although probably more confusing. When I was filling with these (in CA btw), most of my peer students ignored that income and got away with it, but the proper thing to do was to report it OFF the line, with the annotation ‘SCH’. Many of the tax software platforms now also support this weird unofficial/official way of filling out the forms.

Anyway, search 1098-T + your local R1 and you’ll see plenty of people discussing that one too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:29 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]

I always got a W-2 working as a TA.
posted by praemunire at 8:45 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Background checks would be fine; taxi medallions after training would be fine, if they allowed the number of medallions to increase to match demand. The reason Uber and Lyft took off so well is that taxis utterly failed to meet the public's need (or at least interest) in getting a ride.

A lot of taxi services refused to deal with suburbs; some would refuse to carry anyone not going to major hubs like airports. And of course, in some areas, there just weren't anywhere near enough of them to meet consumer demand. Aside from that, you had to track down taxi contact info in every new location.

They were also often cheaper, because they're exploiting the workers, but most people who use them weren't deciding on Uber-instead-of-taxi; they were using Uber because it was available and taxis either weren't, or weren't easy to find. Nothing's preventing cab companies from having an app that detects your location and you put in your destination instead of trying to talk on the phone at a noisy bar, and explain your location when all you know is "the fish-and-chips pub right next to the AMC Cinema 16 off the Bay Street exit from 580."

Enough people hate the exploitative apps that they might prefer to switch to taxis - if they could figure out how to find one when they're done shopping, if they didn't often need a half-hour wait, if they knew the price before they started.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:32 PM on June 7

Nothing's preventing cab companies from having an app that detects your location and you put in your destination

There are a bunch of these, like Curb (as one example I've used in NYC and LA).
posted by thefoxgod at 5:00 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]

Flywheel here in the Bay Area.

As far as the convenience thing goes, I have seen people standing on the sidewalk outside Radio, across the street from one of the two taxi stands in downtown Oakland (you literally literally could not get more convenient), with three taxis whose drivers are ready and looking for passengers, and they called an Uber/Lyft. It's not just about what's available and convenient, it's about habit.
posted by Lexica at 9:37 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]

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