How millions from Uber and Lyft are funding the harassment o

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Re: How millions from Uber and Lyft are funding the harassme

Postby admin » Wed Dec 09, 2020 1:50 am

After Prop 22 Win for Uber & Lyft, Advocates Fear New Wave of Anti-Worker Laws Pushed by Big Tech
by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales
Democracy Now!
December 8, 2020

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[Shortened Transcript]

[Amy Goodman] We look now at how ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft scored a major victory against workers’ rights in the election with the passage of Prop. 22 in California. And how they are now pushing similar measures in other states. During the campaign to pass Prop. 22, Uber and Lyft spent a record-setting $205 Million to bombard voters and their own workers with misleading advertisements and messages that promised minimum wage, healthcare and protections that are consistent with a full-time job. One ad appropriated the words of legendary poet Maya Angelou as it showed images of Black and Brown workers getting ready for their morning drive to pick up passengers:

Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For a new beginning.


One survey of California voters who voted “yes” to Prop. 22 showed 40% thought they were supporting workers’ ability to earn a living wage. But the measure will actually stop gig workers from being eligible for job protections and prevent them from accessing the benefits of being on the payroll, such as contributions for social security, medicare benefits, and overtime pay. Prop. 22 overrides AB5, a major labor law passed in California in 2019 that extended employee classification to gig workers. Now critics worry the proposition could have dire implications for labor rights across the country. The proposition was also backed by Doordash, Instacart, and Postmates which Uber now owns. It was also pushed by Tony West, the brother-in-law of Vice-President elect Kamala Harris who is Uber’s chief legal officer.

For more we go to California…. Veena Dubal joins us, Professor of Law at University of California Hastings who writes extensively about the gig economy and says during the campaign for Prop. 22, she was one of many critics who was subjected to online and offline attacks, including a massive Public Records Act request for her emails and text messages from one of the campaign’s PR firms…

[Juan Gonzales] Veena Dubal, the professor of law at University of California Hastings, I wanted to ask you about the role of these corporate democrats with some of these key gig economy firms. I think first of David Plouffe who used to be one of Obama’s closest friends and aides, who first went to work for Uber, and then eventually left Uber and went to work for Mark Zuckerberg’s charity. You also have Anthony Fox, the former Obama Secretary of Transportation who became a top official at Lyft. There’s Matthew Wing who was a spokesman for Andrew Cuomo who also became the spokesman for Uber. All of these corporate democrat top aides going to work for these firms in the gig economy.

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[Veena Dubal] Yeah, it’s striking that the law that is probably the most dangerous law to workers that we’ve seen since Taft-Hartley, that it was architected and heralded by corporate democrats, and not Republicans. It is a far-right law. The way that it was passed was anti-democratic. It is extremely, extremely dangerous to American workers. Yet, you are exactly right: the people behind it, including Tony West, who is now being potentially considered for attorney general, were corporate democrats.

[Amy Goodman] Can you talk about, Professor Dubal, about what you think was most misleading about this campaign. I mean, 58% of Californians voted, or of those who voted, voted for it. And talk about it being used as a model. You see this as one of the most serious attacks on labor in all of your studying of labor law in the United States.

[Veena Dubal] Yes. So the reason that it is such a huge attack on labor is because it’s this corporate fantasy that they’ve been trying to accomplish for the past century, it dismantles all of the New Deal protections. Workers no longer have access to a minimum wage, to overtime compensation, to unemployment insurance, to workers compensation, to all of the things we know, the very limited protections that working people have in the United States. Those are all completely gone. And these are the workers who most need those basic protections… These are low-wage, mostly people of color workers. During the campaign, and I should say these $200 million dollars were spent on a variety of things, but they were mostly spent on bombarding the California electorate, the voters of California, with misleading advertising on YouTube, on Facebook, on Instagram, even when you were searching on Google the ad that popped up, emails, in messages, just constant bombardment of messaging that was just inaccurate. In California it is legal to be misleading in political advertisements, and probably the most misleading thing that I saw was that the advertisements alleged that workers would be making a minimum wage. And that is the most important thing for your viewers and listeners to understand about Prop. 22 and the danger that it poses, is that it takes away access to a time-based minimum wage. So people are no longer getting paid for all the time that they work. They are only getting paid when they have an assignment. So all of the risks and liabilities traditionally associated with doing business are now on the workers themselves. Drivers … can no longer predict how much they will make in a given day or a given week. It is at the whim and whimsy of both demand and the corporations themselves. And if that spreads to other sectors we are going to face increasing inequality, increasing ___, the growth of the contingent workforce, it is going to make it extremely, extremely difficult for working families to survive, to put food on the table. And as we all are anticipating, we might be facing a big economic depression in the coming years, and this is the absolute worst time for workers not to have access to that very basic protection that we have come to understand is a limited right that Americans have, which is a time-based minimum wage….

[Juan Gonzales] And Veena Dubal, about this effort to roll it out nationwide, there has been discussion of trying to get federal law passed. Could you talk about that?

[Veena Dubal] Yeah, they have announced that they are ready and willing to take this really dangerous law to the federal level. They are already trying to replicate it in a number of states, including New York state. They have [been] rolling out advertisements similarly misleading advertisements to the campaign in California. And since Lyft hit the streets of San Francisco in 2012-2013, over the past seven years, almost a decade, they have, at the company’s behest, a number of bills have been written and even introduced to do exactly what Prop. 22 does, which is create a substandard category of worker under the U.S. law. And I think they think they have a blueprint now. They got this passed in California, and as we all know, what happens in California tends to spread all over the country and even the world. And so I think we are going to see a flood of misinformation in states and on the federal level about what gig work is, the kinds of benefits supposedly it offers. We’re going to hear a lot of misrepresentations of what freedom and flexibility it offers, and how people need this work. And it’s so important for people to understand, for voters, for Americans to understand that this law takes away all of the hard-won protections that workers have. We are at a point in technology and history where we should be expanding workers’ rights, and instead, this law has completely stripped them away.

[Amy Goodman] And Veena Dubal, in just 30 seconds, if you could explain what happened to you as you campaigned against Prop. 22, the mass investigation that was done of you.

[Veena Dubal] Yeah, I had extreme forms of harassment from the PR campaign, which is again, this proposition, it passed as a result of misinformation and harassment. It was very Trumpian in that sense. I got massive text and email public records act requests, I was CONSTANTLY harassed online and offline, someone put my home address up on Twitter – I was doxed. It was a lot of misinformation on the right-wing blogosphere. It was really something. They were scared of what I had to say, and I will continue to say it, because if this spreads past California, we are headed for an even worse situation of inequality than we are already experiencing.
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