Today’s News & Commentary — January 14, 2019


Published January 14th, 2020 - 01.14.2019


Instacart workers are asking customers of the grocery delivery app to participate in a two-day nationwide boycott next week. Organizers of the boycott have one demand: that the company restores its default tip amount to 10%. Thousands of workers staged a three-day national strike in November, demanding the app restore the 10% default tip, which it abandoned in 2016. Instead, the company slashed bonus pay—which comprised up to 40% of shoppers’ earnings—just two days later. Many of the app’s 130,000 “shoppers” have reported that their pay dropped by more than half last year. Workers are now asking customers to tweet under the hashtag #DeleteInstacart on January 19, and to email Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta on January 20, asking him to restore the 10% default tip.

The top lawyer at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is resigning after multiple accounts surfaced regarding his inappropriate workplace relationships. David Drummond, recently the subject of a misconduct investigation by Alphabet’s board, said that his departure is unrelated. In 2018, the New York Times reported on Drummond’s extramarital affair with an employee in an investigation of Google’s mishandling of sexual harassment claims. “Drummond’s persistence at the top of the management chain was something of a running joke in the wake of the walkout,” Claire Stapleton, a former Google employee who co-organized the historic employee-led walkout to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment claims, told Recode. “It made it almost impossible to believe Google management was taking the issues seriously.”

This month, Illinois’s Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act went into effect, which requires employers to provide notice and get consent to use artificial intelligence in job interviews. Companies must notify applicants that artificial intelligence will be used to consider their “fitness” for a position and explain how their AI works and what “general types of characteristics” it considers when evaluating candidates. Besides requiring applicants’ consent to use AI, the law also seeks to protect job applicants’ privacy by limiting who can view an applicant’s recorded video interview and requiring that companies delete any video upon an applicant’s request. The law, among the first of its kind in the U.S., does not require that employers provide an alternative interview method.

Last week, Starbucks announced that it would offer employees free subscriptions to the mindfulness app Headspace. However, some employees are asking Starbucks to take more meaningful action to promote workers’ well-being, namely by increasing staffing and pay. In recent weeks, Starbucks workers have recirculated a petition demanding that Starbucks address understaffing and “sinking morale.”

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