[Issue 079] All jobs are not good jobs


I've been thinking about jobs a lot lately.

Recent news about the ride-sharing lawsuits in New York and the more recent reporting about Instacart and similar companies' problematic pay practices are upsetting to me.

In case you haven't been following that news closely, here are the highlights from recent headlines:

  • New York City now requires a minimum wage of $17.22 /hr for app-based drivers and has placed a cap on the number of new vehicle licenses for ridehailing companies, with a goal of preventing what Mayor de Blasio called a "race to bottom with the wages of drivers."

  • Uber is suing the city to remove the cap. Lyft and Juno (another ride-sharing app), meanwhile, are suing to fight the minimum wage, saying it puts smaller companies at a disadvantage against Uber. 

  • Instacart and DoorDash have caught heat for the way they calculate minimum payments, paying as little as $1 if there was a tip. Workers are fighting for fair pay.

What I find most frustrating about all of this is that our system has validated the business models of organizations dependent on underemployment and underpayment of people at a large scale. The fact that investors and the capital markets highly value companies that claim to be incapable of paying living wages in 2019 is just outrageous. Though, also, unsurprising.

Of course this issue extends far beyond the "gig economy." When we take a step back, these conversations are about an individual's ability to take care of themself (and their family) in a capitalist society. 

I don't know if you caught this viral video from Davos. It was most shared because of the comments from a historian about the need for companies to pay their fair share of taxes if they really want to change the world.

But what has been a bit overlooked is the second half of the video, where the Executive Director of Oxfam International answers a question from the former CFO of Yahoo about why we aren't talking about the progress we've made in society related to inequality, including low unemployment.

She shares a few stories about women around the world, including the US, who work in horrible conditions. She then goes on to say:

The quality of the jobs matter. It matters. These are not jobs of dignity. 

So don’t tell me about low levels of unemployment. You are counting the wrong things. You’re not counting the dignity of people. You are counting exploited people.


I have so many other thoughts on this topic, many of which I'm still processing.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this: 3.3 billion people employed globally in 2018 had inadequate economic security, material well-being and equality of opportunity. [Read the report here.]

I don't know about you, but I do not want to live in a world where "innovation" from Sillcon Valley (or anywhere else in the world) includes business models that are dependent on the exploitation of people.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.


REMINDER: This month we are easing back into the newsletter with bi-weekly issues, giving us more time to work on new 2019 content. I'll see you again on March 7th!


ICYMI: For Black History Month Lyft is be providing one free ride up to $10 to Black history museums, memorials, and relevant cultural sites, as well as to Black-owned businesses. The list of cities include Boston, Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles and many more.

Check out the full list here. And shoutout to Amy H. for sharing this with me! The stunning illustration is from the Lyft blog post.


If you read nothing else this week, read this: The Tragic Side Of Tide Pods. This long-read recounts the devastating experience of a mother whose 2 y/o daughter Bella bit into a Tide pod thinking it was candy. Bella had to be rushed to the hospital, almost died from poisoning from the laundry detergent and has had multiple surgeries since. Detergent pods have been the cause an average of 11,568 poisonings of young children a year, yet P&G (which controls 79% of the pods market) and the rest of the industry have not taken sufficient action to ensure safety. // FORTUNE 


Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. This annual list by Fortune features the best companies to work for ranked by compensation, diversity, paid time off, and other benefits. Hilton is featured in the top spot, but the list also features Salesforce, Wegmans Food Markets, Workday, and Cisco—my employer, which does in fact have incredible benefits! // FORTUNE

From Retail to Runway: 12 Sustainable Fashion Labels to Watch. In the wake of New York Fashion Week, Triple Pundit has created a list of 12 sustainable fashion brands to watch. Among the top are Mara HoffmanReformation, and Lukhanyo Mdingi. // TRIPLE PUNDIT


America’s Insanely Expensive Child Care Is A Serious Economic Problem. Female employment has stalled since the 1990s, and among the wealthiest nations, the US ranks 28th out of 36th when it comes to employment among women between the ages of 25 and 54. Many families are finding that the cost of child care compared to their salaries makes both the option of both parents working less feasible, leaving many to stop working to stay at home with their children, instead. // SLATE

Here's What Happened When I Interviewed For A New Job While Heavily Pregnant. Jen Watts Welsh interviewed and got a job for a senior position in an ad agency while 6.5-8 months pregnant. She decided to write about her experience because she realized that it was uncommon for women to be able to do what she did, and many women feel forced to stay in the same job to keep their maternity leave and health care. // FAST COMPANY

Amazon made an $11.2bn profit in 2018 but paid no federal tax. For the second year in a row, the company has not paid a single dollar in taxes. As a matter of fact, despite doubling profits in 2018, Amazon actually reported a $129m federal income tax rebate for the year – making its effective tax rate -1%. // GUARDIAN


She Spoke Up About Sexual Harassment At Ernst & Young And Got Caught In A Web Of Retaliation. Karen Ward, a former partner at the consulting company Ernst & Young since 2013, filed a sexual discrimination complaint claiming that the she was sexually harassed by her supervisor, Michael McNamara, and that for years the men at the company undermined or stole her work. After McNamara’s firing for harassment, Ward experienced so much retaliation from McNamara’s “boys’ club” network that she lost her job at the consulting firm. // HUFF POST

"Her story shows the limits of the Me Too era. Simply firing or forcing out a sexual harasser often does little to change a company’s culture, as she learned. It’s also a reminder that, for women, privilege can’t always confer protection from sexual discrimination and harassment. Degrees from Stanford and Wharton and roots in the upper echelons of Wall Street hardly warded off harassment."

This New IBM Recycling Tech Makes Brand New Plastic from Dirty BottlesResearchers at IBM have recently developed a process called VolCat that can recycle old plastic bottles into new, high-quality powder clean plastic material that more brands and manufacturers prefer to use. This comes with an increase of chemical recycling, and aims to make recycling more efficient as well as more usable. // FAST COMPANY

Gucci and Adidas Apologize and Drop Products Called Racist Gucci released a black knit sweater earlier this year that featured a balaclava that went over the mouth adorned with bright red lips, which was widely called out for depicting black face. Gucci has since removed the item from their stock. Adidas faced backlash over including an entirely white pair of shoes in a collection inspired by the Harlem Renaissance commemorating Black History Month, Adidas has since dropped the sneakers from the line, as well.  // NY TIMES 


Barbie Done Better: Mattel Launches More Inclusive Dolls. Mattel, the company behind Barbie Dolls, created a “Barbie Fashionistas” line in 2016 that focused on diversity and more realistic body proportions. Recently, they have added Barbie Dolls that represent people with disabilities, featuring a doll that uses a mobility aid as well as a doll with a prosthetic leg. Mattel was urged to add these dolls to the line by Jordan Reeves, a 12 year old activist with a visible limb difference.  // TRIPLE PUNDIT

Tech Companies Are Helping Enforce Gender Apartheid in Saudi Arabia. Leading tech companies Google, Apple, and others are under fire for allowing smartphone apps that help Saudi Arabian men to track and control Saudi Arabian women, usually those belonging to their family. // TRIPLE PUNDIT

The headlines were curated with the help of ABL's badass intern, Lora.


“We want Instacart to stop stealing our tips. We want them to pay us a fair living wage for our efforts.”

Matthew Telles

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Nikita T. Mitchell