Uber and Lyft Drivers Can Now Unionize In Seattle

The Needle & Rainier In a move that could set a  precedent in other cities, Seattle has just passed legislation that will allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize, meaning they can negotiate pay and benefits. The implications are significant, because the on-demand driving startups currently classify their drivers as contractors and not full-time employees. The Seattle City Council voted 8-0 in support of the… Read More

Seattle’s City Council votes to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize


The Seattle City Council has voted to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize. The move is intended to protect these for-hire workers and provide protections against unfair wages and working conditions. What makes this significant is that this is the first time either on-demand car service company has faced the potential of having unionized drivers.

Should a union be established amongst drivers for the transportation network companies, it will extend collective bargaining rights to hundreds of drivers similar to what taxi and for-hire transportation companies currently offer. Until today, as they’re deemed independent contractors, Uber and Lyft drivers were excluded from unionizing because they’re not employees.

When legislation was introduced in September, councilmember Mike O’Brien explained that many of the drivers “make below minimum wage and have no rights in their jobs.” Now that it’s passed, how the system will work is that all drivers who have a Seattle for-hire vehicle licenses that have performed what the city calls a minimum threshold of trips can be eligible to participate in the union. Seattle will certify the unions and after being verified, the so-called Driver Representative Organization will be able to engage in collective bargaining with companies like Uber and Lyft.

It was a unanimous vote in favor of the legislation, which will likely be used as a test case for this new variation of the workforce — how will it affect non-transportation on-demand services, such as TaskRabbit, Postmates, Luxe, Amazon Prime, and many others.

A Lyft spokesperson provided VentureBeat with a statement, saying:

“Lyft provides consumers with convenient and affordable transportation, and drivers with the ability to make money in their free time. Lyft drivers are entirely in control of where or when they work, and this flexibility is exactly why the service is so popular with with people looking to make extra income. Unfortunately, the ordinance passed today threatens the privacy of drivers, imposes substantial costs on passengers and the City, and conflicts with longstanding federal law. We urge the Mayor and full Council to reconsider this legislation and listen to the voices of their constituents who choose to drive with Lyft because of the flexible economic opportunity it offers.”

A spokesperson for Uber also provided this statement:

Uber is creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms. Drivers say that with flexible and independent work with Uber, 50% of them drive fewer than 10 hours a week, 70% have full-time or part-time work outside of Uber and 65% choose to vary the hours they drive 25% week-to-week.

Neither company commented on how the union vote will sway their business in the Emerald City, but some had posited that it would result in increased fares. This case could affect Uber’s case in its class-action lawsuit brought against it by drivers who sought to be recognized as employees and have sought reimbursement for expenses.

But in showing that the issue isn’t as clear-cut, North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida have or will be enacting regulations to support Uber and Lyft’s position that drivers be designated as independent contractors.

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Listia Isn’t Just For Swapping Free Stuff Anymore

money cash Listia started out as a way for people to swap free stuff, but now its users can actually make money. The new feature takes advantage of Listia’s existing system, where users give away their stuff in exchange for credits. Those credits, in turn, can be redeemed for other products on the marketplace, or for goods available through the Listia Rewards Program. Want to just take cash instead? Read More

Microsoft releases Cortana-like speech to text technology to select developers

Nokia Lumia 635 Windows Phone Bhupinder Nayyar Flickr

Microsoft today announced a new private preview of the Custom Recognition Intelligence Service (CRIS), a highly customizable tool that can give applications Siri-like speech-to-text functionality. Also today, Microsoft is opening up public previews for two sets of application programming interfaces (APIs) that offer developers technology that can understand who’s talking in audio recordings and what shows up in videos.

All of this technology falls under Project Oxford, an initiative to give third-party developers access to the artificial intelligence that Microsoft has built up through the years. Google is also moving down this path, for instance with the release of the Cloud Vision API.

Microsoft announced an emotion detection tool in Project Oxford last month and also announced that the public beta for speaker recognition would be available by the end of the year. Now that’s available, according to a blog post today from Microsoft technology and research senior program manager Ryan Galgon. The speech APIs can both verify and identify speakers, while the video APIs can track faces, detect motion for stationary backgrounds, and stabilize video content.

But the more interesting tool here is CRIS. Here’s the high-level description Microsoft provided last month:

This tool … makes it easier for people to customize speech recognition for challenging environments, such as a noisy public space. For example, a company could use it to help a team better use speech recognition tools while working on a loud shop floor or busy shopping center. It also could be used to help an app better understand people who have traditionally had trouble with voice recognition, such as non-native speakers or those with disabilities.

When developers sign up to use the service, Microsoft asks if they’re familiar with speech to text technologies like HTK, Kaldi, and SRILM, or merely users of personal digital assistant technologies from Google, Apple, or, of course, Microsoft itself.

Indeed, as Galgon mentioned, “the past few years witnessed tremendous improvement in the performance of speaker recognition systems.” Now developers will be able to take advantage of the technology in this area that Microsoft has put together.

A man walks into one of Apple’s authorised premium

Apple fails yet again: $123B vanishes Apple shares are falling hard yet again Monday as the stock continues to fail to rise Check out this story on WFAA.com: http://usat.ly/1YfyBFB Stocks sank in choppy trading by midday on Monday as crude oil hung around the $35 mark and investors looked to the Federal Reserve meeting later this week. The central bank is expected to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

Want better results from your sales team? Consider the management software you’re using (webinar)

Sales chart.shutterstock_266132192

Nancy Nardin, David Brierley, Mike Weinberg and Donal Daly are talking how you can take your sales team performance from meh to WOW.  Hit this webinar on demand and learn essential secrets on maximizing sales performance for your team.

Access the webinar on demand right here.

Far too many sales managers spend too much time doing anything but sales.

From seemingly endless email chains to seeking important data concealed in spreadsheets or complex CRM systems, they occupy their days removed from value-added tasks like one-on-one meetings with sales reps or gleaning accurate insights that drives sales. It should hardly be a surprise, then, that studies find most deals don’t close on the predicted date — if they even close at all.

Even the most driven sales managers, those who use the analytics tools available to them in CRM apps, face challenges discerning the answers they need from the data they can access. Most analytics are predictive, (outlining what may occur) or prescriptive (detailing how an organization should react); however, sales managers need descriptive analytics, which tell them what data means in the context of a particular contract win (or loss). Without this insight, sales numbers will continue to surprise sales managers.

“If you buy into the premise that surprises are bad or that information is power… then every day you need to know what’s going on in your business,” says sales expert Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group during a VentureBeat webinar ‘The Secret to Maximizing Sales Performance.’ “Is my biggest deal in the hands of my weakest rep? Did my forecast just shift? What’s happening to my win rate?”

Consultant and author Mike Weinberg, David Brierley, VP at Pyramid Analytics, and Nancy Nardin, President, Smart Selling Tools, joined Daly on the webinar. According to the panelists, sales managers can maximize sales performance if they:

  • Spend more one-on-one time with sales representatives
  • Use sales management software that integrates with CRM applications
  • Leverage the right data to drive productivity

A sales management tool should improve productivity, reduce repetitive tasks, allow a sales manager to engage in higher-value activities, and be easily adoptable by sales reps, says Nardin.

“You didn’t go into sales to become a data analyst or to pore through spreadsheets and figure them out. So the tool will reduce the heavy lifting and allow you to spend the time on what you were hired to do, which are the more higher-value activities,” she says.

By knowing early on which deals are likely to run into problems, through greater insight into the pipeline, and knowledge about an organization’s sales cadence, sales managers are less likely to encounter unexpected surprises. They also can spend more time working closely with sales reps to help individuals boost their own overall productivity.

Sales managers accomplish this by answering a series of questions, including:

  • What are my must-win contracts?
  • Do I have any inactive or stalled deals in my pipeline?
  • What happened to each sales person’s deals last month or quarter?
  • Are we losing contracts late in the sales cycle? Who is winning them?

What differences are there between our performance for qualified opportunities, those that reach Stage 2 or Stage 3 in the sales funnel, and all our opportunities?

By analyzing data using software designed specifically for sales managers, sales professionals can get answers to these age-old questions, then use this insight to reallocate or refocus resources, adjust forecasts, and avoid surprises.

Don’t miss out.

Access this discussion for free right here.


Donal Daly, CEO, The TAS Group

Mike Weinberg, Consultant, The New Business Sales Coach

Nancy Nardin, President, Smart Selling Tools

David Brierley, VP EMEA & APJ, Pyramid Analytics


This webinar is sponsored by The TAS Group.