Even more governmental regulation is headed our way while we also continue to battle with the idea of robots taking over for us. Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins covers all this as well as how to save money on gas for this week’s roundup.
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Instacart Bets on Robots to Shrink Ranks of 500,000 Gig Shoppers [Bloomberg]
Summary: Instacart Inc. has an audacious plan to replace its army of gig shoppers with robots—part of a long-term strategy to cut costs and put its relationship with supermarket chains on a sustainable footing.
The plan, detailed in documents reviewed by Bloomberg, involves building automated fulfillment centers around the U.S., where hundreds of robots would fetch boxes of cereal and cans of soup while humans gather produce and deli products. Some facilities would be attached to existing grocery stores while larger standalone centers would process orders for several locations, according to the documents, which were dated July and December.
Despite working on the strategy for more than a year, however, the company has yet to sign up a single supermarket chain. Instacart had planned to begin testing the fulfillment centers later this year, the documents show. But the company has fallen behind schedule, according to people familiar with the situation. And though the documents mention asking several automation providers to build the technology, Instacart hasn’t settled on any, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss a private matter. In February, the Financial Times reported on elements of the strategy and said Instacart in early 2020 sent out requests for proposals to five robotics companies….
My Take: In the world of technology, it’s only natural that even more automation enters into the workforce. It’s likely cheaper in the long-run, but even by reading this, humans can’t be completely removed from the equation.
Plus, it’s still a ways out before implementation. I don’t think Instacart shoppers have much to worry about for the immediate future, but it’s something to keep an eye out for in the coming months and years.
It’s likely not going to end up Matrix-style where the robots take over the earth and farm humans out for power/batteries. But it’s worth noting that every year technology keeps improving and taking over for what humans have done for years.
Uber drivers win their first ever unionization deal [CNN]
Summary: Uber has recognized a labor union for the first time in a move that could boost efforts by gig economy workers to win better employment rights.
GMB, one of Britain’s largest unions, will now be able to represent up to 70,000 drivers across the United Kingdom — one of Uber’s most important international markets — according to a joint statement from the union and the company.
“This groundbreaking deal between GMB and Uber could be the first step to a fairer working life for millions of people,” said GMB’s national officer Mick Rix. “We now call on all other operators to follow suit,” Rix added.
Uber (UBER) is the only major private taxi operator to offer these protections, according to GMB, which could give it an advantage over other app-based services such as Bolt and Ola by making it a more attractive employer. British union Unite represents London’s Black Cab drivers….
My Take: I find it funny how Uber is working so well with everyone over in the UK, or at least it sounds like that from all the news. It just seems like they aren’t putting up a fuss over anything the UK throws at them, but here in the U.S., if anything is asked or questioned then threats to leave California or other difficulties are brought up like it’s the end of the world.
What makes the UK so much easier to get along with?
Biden intends to nominate Uber critic to oversee gig worker rights [WTVB]
Summary: President Joe Biden intends to nominate David Weil, who has supported government crackdowns on the workforce models of gig-economy companies like Uber Technologies Inc, to run a U.S. Labor Department division overseeing gig worker rights.
Weil previously served as top wage regulator in former President Barack Obama’s administration from 2014 to 2017. A hallmark of his tenure was spearheading investigations into companies’ use of independent contractors.
If nominated and confirmed, he will return to his position at the department’s Wage & Hour unit, which investigates whether gig workers are misclassified as independent contractors and thus missing out on benefits that employees are entitled to such as overtime and the minimum wage….
My Take: Similar to other roundups I’ve done, I’m questioning the intentions here. It’s hard to believe anyone involved actually has worker’s rights and welfare in mind. The government wants their cut, so that’s why they are stepping in.
Memorial Day gas prices are the highest in seven years and could stay high all summer [CNBC]
Summary: Gasoline prices are the highest for a Memorial Day holiday weekend since 2014.
Prices are expected to range around $3 and stay elevated through the summer, as Americans get on the road resuming normal activities and taking driving holidays.
The Colonial Pipeline outage earlier this month is over, but there are still some areas with short supplies. Nevertheless, drivers should still be able to fill up over the long weekend….
My Take: Gas prices are soaring right now, and according to this article there’s no immediate end in sight. Gas is the biggest ongoing cost for drivers and couriers, so what can we do to combat high prices?
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Get started as a gig worker today! Learn more:
- Is driving for Doordash worth it?
- Postmates Driver Pay
- Instacart Shopper Pay
- Uber Eats Driver Review
- Best food delivery service to work for
- Rideshare insurance
-Paula @ RSG