The Donald Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board dealt a major blow last week to workers being exploited by companies misclassifying them as independent contractors. Whether a worker is an employee has long been determined by a number of factors, including how much control the employer exerts over things like work hours and conditions. The NLRB, though, looked at SuperShuttle drivers in Dallas-Fort Worth who have to buy the exact van that SuperShuttle wants, pay a series of fees to SuperShuttle, use company dispatchers, and be monitored by SuperShuttle GPS tracking, and decided that they are legitimately independent contractors and not employees because something something “entrepreneurial opportunity.” Moshe Marvit has the gory details:
Throughout the Board majority’s decision, it becomes clear that when it uses the language of “freedom” and “entrepreneurial opportunity,” it is the freedom to fail and the opportunity to lose. Reading the decision, one is struck by the lack of any evidence that the drivers—or “franchisees” in the language of the case—do well under the agreement. Instead, the Board majority approvingly cites the NLRB Acting Regional Director who made the first determination in the case, in which she found that “franchisees face a meaningful risk of loss in light of the substantial costs that go into owning a franchise, i.e. the vehicle payments, weekly system fees, insurance costs, gas, maintenance, licensing fees, and tolls.” The Board methodically goes through every instance where the company has offloaded costs and risks to the drivers, while maintaining strict control, and calls the new relationship one where the drivers are small business owners, experiencing freedom and entrepreneurial opportunity.
Basically, the NLRB served notice that there may be no employment relationship so exploitative that it declines to affirm it as independent contracting.
● A Massachusetts charter operator apparently faked letters of support from local nonprofit leaders in its quest for a state license to open a school.
● Here’s a roundup of what unions were saying on Twitter this week.
The sprawling 116-count federal indictment alleges that Dougherty, 58, and his associates stole more than $600,000 in union funds and spent it wildly on no-show jobs; expensive meals at restaurants including the Palm Philadelphia; an array of construction projects; and purchases that included big-screen TVs, dog food, and baby supplies.
“Union funds” come from union workers, so he was stealing from his own members.
● Teacher strikes are about more than pay raises and Education Week is on it.
— New York Mag Union (@NYMagUnion) January 30, 2019