Class War

Uber CEO Goes Full Bond Villain

Corporate evil in action.

Monday, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ordered Uber and Lyft to cut the crap and start treating their drivers like actual, real-live employees with benefits and not “independent contractors," a fancy term for people who aren't paid enough to survive.

It's one thing if everyone who worked at Uber and Lyft were “independent contractors." That would still suck but it's in the general galaxy of fairness. However, Uber and Lyft have thousands of employees who code, coordinate operations, and develop products, the kind of stuff you do while wearing a hoodie and occasionally playing ping-pong in the break room. It's the drivers they treat like dirt, and that's especially appalling considering drivers provide the companies' core service.

Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law reaffirming a 2018 Supreme Court decision that established a stringent “three-part test" for separating the employee wheat from the independently contracted chaff.

A worker is only an independent contractor if she is not under the control or direction of the company while she's working; if her work is "outside the usual course" of the company's business; and if she is "customarily engaged" in the same kind of work that she does for the company.

It seemed obvious that ride-share companies couldn't seriously argue their drivers weren't critical employees, but Uber's legal response was “why so serious?" Uber argued that it was a simple, country technology company that provided a service to drivers not to riders. The drivers are Uber's actual customers. However, treating your customers like crap is a questionable business model. One Uber office in Rhode Island even forced its drivers to use separate (but we're sure totally equal) bathrooms from their employees.

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Tech

'Big Tech’ So Biased Against Conservatives It’s Gonna Help Trump Win Re-Election

Wait, that doesn’t sound right.

Donald Trump and his Republican stooges insist that social media is stacked against them. That is, when they can remember which platforms are which. Last week, Republican Jim Sensenbrenner demanded that Mark Zuckerberg explain why Donald Trump Jr. had content removed from Twitter, which Zuckerberg doesn't own.

Zuckerberg does own Facebook and Instagram, which are both very tolerant of conservative rightwing disinformation. The top trending posts on Facebook are consistently right wing voices such as Dan Bongino, Blue Lives Matter, so many Bens Shapiro, and the president himself. "Big Tech" is not out to get conservatives, no matter what Senator Ted Cruz claims.

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Tech

Donald Trump Wants Microsoft To Buy TikTok. And He Wants A Piece Of The Action.

Also wants some of those fancy heaters.

Last Friday, Donald Trump announced that he was going to ban the video social media app TikTok, for reasons, which he claimed were national security. For heavens sake, TikTok harvests user data, and unlike good patriotic American tech giants, TikTok might be sending that data right to the Chinese Communist Party instead of to American advertisers! The company and the Chinese government both deny that and say that, like any tech company except Wonkette, TikTok's owner ByteDance simply wants to direct ads to users.

Still, Trump is mad at TikTok, and after initially saying he'd oppose it being taken over by Microsoft, he told Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Sunday that he'd give ByteDance and Microsoft until September 15 to arrange the sale, or TikTok would for sure be banned in the USA. And then Trump hummed what he still thinks is a patriotic Springsteen anthem.

Because there was still room for things to get a lot stupider, they did. Trump had a new thought, which he shared with reporters Monday, pointing out that it had come from his gargantuan deal-thinking-of brain:

The United States should get a very large percentage of that price, because we're making it possible. [...] It would come from the sale, which nobody else would be thinking about but me, but that's the way I think, and I think it's very fair.

We suppose Trump has a bit of a point: Nobody else would try to force the sale of a private foreign company to a private US company and then demand a cut for the US Treasury. As a BBC business analyst says, with lovely understatement, "The US Treasury has not explained how this extraordinary demand for a cut of a private transaction would work."

We're wondering what sort of back-channel arrangement would end up with some of that hypothetical money in the Trump Organization's accounts. Guess we'll have to wait 15 minutes for a leak, or a few months for a tell-all book.

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coronavirus

States Decide To Try Uniting For COVID-19 Testing

No word yet on what these united states will call themselves.

Since the nation seems to be starting its coronavirus response all over again, a coalition of seven states has decided to bring back an idea from earlier in the pandemic. The states, led by Maryland, are banding together to order 3.5 million quick-response COVID-19 tests. If that sounds a bit familiar, it's because several multi-state coalitions popped up in the spring to coordinate orders of personal protective equipment for medical workers, back when Donald Trump was telling the states to bid against each other and the federal government. Trump still doesn't have a national strategy, so governors are coming together again to do the job the federal government has abdicated.

While the earlier efforts were aimed at more effectively getting PPE to where it was needed, this coalition is aimed at getting the producers of rapid-detection tests to step up production. And look, bipartisanship, as the Washington Post reports:

The governors, three Republicans and four Democrats, say other states and cities may join them and that talks have already begun with one of the two companies approved by the FDA to sell point-of-care antigen tests that can detect the virus in less than 30 minutes.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) negotiated the deal during the final days of his tenure as chair of the National Governors Association. His office said the Rockefeller Foundation is willing to act as the financing entity if needed.

Gosh, that sounds like the sort of thing a federal government might do, too, if we had one.

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