The first presidential debate of the 2020 election left viewers reeling after ninety minutes of interruptions, falsehoods, and personal attacks, mostly leveled by President Trump. Commentators called the debate an “ugly melee,” an “embarrassment for the ages,” and “a disgrace,” among other things. If voters were hoping to hear alternative presidential visions for America’s economic recovery or coronavirus response, they were surely disappointed by the lack of substantive policy discussion. President Trump expressed frustration with public health restrictions and called on Democratic governors to open their states. He also said he “disagreed” with his health experts who say a vaccine won’t be available to the public until next year. Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized the Trump Administration’s response to the pandemic, calling the president a “fool on masks,” and “totally irresponsible” in how he handled social distancing. Neither candidate offered a clear plan on how to manage the ongoing pandemic nor the upcoming flu season.
Seattle passed a new law yesterday creating a minimum pay standard for Uber and Lyft drivers. Beginning in January, ride-hailing companies must pay drivers an amount close to the city’s $16 minimum hourly wage. The law is modeled on a similar New York City measure passed in 2018. As in New York, drivers will be compensated according to a formula that combines per-minute and per-mile rates, scaled up by a “utilization rate,” so that drivers remain adequately compensated even when less busy. The formula is intended to motivate the companies to keep their drivers busier rather than increase the number of drivers to reduce customer wait times. The Seattle Mayor said in a statement that the pandemic had “exposed the fault lines in our systems of worker protections, leaving many frontline workers like gig workers without a safety net.”
The Illinois Department of Labor announced the creation of a free consulting program to assist small businesses in the process of reopening with COVID-19 safety guidelines. Back to Business Illinois will pair businesses with Workplace Safety and Health consultants from within the Illinois DoL, to help with a variety of reopening questions. These include auditing physical operation and identifying best practices to keep workers and customers safe. The program will be non-punitive, and will offer a “Back to Business” certification to show employees and visitors that safety measures have been addressed.