New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made headlines begging Amazon to site its second headquarters in the state. Now, however, prominent Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly have slammed the idea of offering taxpayer subsidies to the retail giant.
Amazon’s continuous resistance to collecting sales taxes made it the first major American company to build its business based on tax avoidance. Contrary to popular belief, the company is still resisting today.
I recently spoke to the leader of the Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West, which represents Los Angeles janitors, about some startling information I had heard earlier from a friend at SEIU-USWW.
Self-employed independent contractors in the Golden State can neither form unions nor negotiate collective bargaining pacts, but part of those conditions could soon change, according to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). Gonzalez, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, introduced Assembly Bill 1727 on January 28 as an amendment to the state’s Labor Code. Gonzalez’s bill, which will be updated today, is called the California 1099 Self-Organizing Act. It would allow independent contractors to form employee associations that could negotiate working conditions and pay, though not to form labor unions.
“All workers should have the right to organize and collectively bargain,” Gonzalez said in an email to Capital & Main. “Our laws need to catch up to the innovation happening in our economy to ensure independent contractors have a pathway to these workplace rights as well.”
If you try to play Monopoly with a two year old, you will not win.
Sure, you may be better at buying up property, building hotels and following rules about when to pass Go – good on you. But when the two year old decides he’s playing a different game, like Throw the Entire Board at the Adult, that game and its goals will absolutely trump yours.
Disruption went from Silicon Valley buzzword to cliché years ago, but it persists as an operational goal for countless tech startups and their investors. (See Judith Shulevitz’s excellent 2013 exploration of the term.)
Whenever the subject of raising hourly pay to a livable level comes up in Los Angeles, you can expect two stalwart foes: The Chamber of Commerce and the Central City Association. They both represent business and they always argue that paying working people a wage they can live on will hurt business owners. I cannot recall a time they ever claimed anything else.
But now a new voice from the business community has surveyed the field of low-wage work and come up with a conclusion quite opposite the Chamber’s and the Association’s. A member of the faculty at MIT’s Sloan School of Management (named after a former president of General Motors, no less) compared wages and company results among sales people and check-out clerks. These jobs happen to rank one and two in the number of employees in the country, and they are notorious for low pay, part-time hours and oppressive working environments.
(This article was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute. It first appeared on The Nation’s website and is republished with permission.)
The call from the temp agency comes in late October. I’ve passed the drug test, cleared the background check, sat down for a quick interview—“Can you lift fifty-pound boxes?”—and completed a worksheet of basic math problems. Now there’s a job. A warehouse just outside the city of Ontario, about forty miles east of Los Angeles, needs more bodies to meet the holiday crush.
They do work for Walmart, Best Buy, “all sorts of big companies,” says the female voice on the line. Orientation starts at 8:15 am; pay is $9 an hour. “Make sure you’re early.” Before hanging up she repeats the order. “Be early.”
On an overcast Tuesday, I pull into the parking lot,
Until recently the Internet, along with the devices that brought it to us and the platforms that have expanded its usefulness, held a certain cool, selfless allure. The Web was mostly the idea of young, rule-breaking rebels, and their insurgent mystique made them hero geeks. Browsing a favorite blog on our laptops, a cup of red-eye coffee nearby, we felt a part of the New. Then money began doing what it always does to young, rule-breaking rebels – it turned them into our parents, our landlords and our loan officers.
It began in earnest, I suppose, with last year’s tiff between Amazon.com and the state of California over Sacramento’s insistence that the online retail behemoth start collecting state taxes on its sales. Amazon eventually struck “compromises” with California and other states that mostly favored Amazon. Many of us in California smiled – we got an extra year of purchasing on the site without paying taxes.