Who is an employee? New standard for 2 million workers spurs clash at California Capitol

CapitolAshley Hutton Stanfield’s favorite thing about her job is the freedom to work in the “nooks and crannies of my day.”

Four years ago, after leaving her career at a medical devices company to raise her children, Stanfield became a sales consultant for Arbonne International, a multi-level marketing firm that makes beauty and nutrition products.

Stanfield said she coaches about 1,000 clients per month on how to use and sell a 30-day health regimen. But she can manage her business from the dining room of her Fair Oaks home, between dropping her kids off and picking them up from camp, or take a phone call while running on the treadmill at the gym. She has leisurely breakfasts with her family in the morning and finishes up what she needs to after putting her two daughters to bed.

“I was able to achieve more with this opportunity than I ever could have achieved in that other life,” Stanfield said. “I’m present in every moment.”

Arrangements like Stanfield’s are looking more uncertain after a California Supreme Court ruling on independent contractors in April. That unanimous decision, adopting a new “ABC test” for defining employees, threw nearly three decades of legal precedent up in the air. …

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Judge Rejects Uber Settlement, Saying It Lowballs California Labor Claims

As reported by Forbes.com:

A federal judge has thrown out a proposed $100 million settlement negotiated by a Boston lawyer on behalf of more than 200,000 Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts, saying it places too low a value on potentially costly claims drivers could bring under California labor laws.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, who has consistently ruled in favor of attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan over Uber’s fierce objections, rejected the settlement because it allocated only $1 million for claims under California’s Private Attorneys General Act, a law that allows employees to sue for civil penalties on behalf of the state. The California Labor and Workforce Development Agency estimated the value of those claims to be $1 billion if a court determined Uber drivers were employees and not independent contractors, as Uber maintains.

The judge also dismissed as meaningless an unusual provision in the settlement that would increase it from $84 million to $100 million if Uber held a successful initial public offering, saying he couldn’t consider that part of the deal since he had no assurance it would happen. (Uber, which has a private market value of $28-$60 billion based on recent venture capital rounds, told the judge “it would not be proper” to respond to his questions about an IPO.)

The settlement came on the eve of the first trial, and Chen’s rejection puts …

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WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Mandatory Union Membership Hurting Workers

When workers are forced to join a union in order to work, it hurts workers pretty much the same way as business monopolies hurt consumers, according to a report released Monday by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.

According to the report, in those states where union membership is required in order to have a job, unions will have higher dues and be far less efficient than in states that don’t require union membership as a condition of employment. The report argues that these negative outcomes are likely caused by unions not having to worry about proving their worth in order to keep their members.

“Businesses with monopolies charge higher prices and operate less efficiently than they would facing competition,” the report argues. “Labor unions operate no differently.”

In business, a monopoly occurs when there is only one supplier of a particular commodity. When this happens, the one company can control prices while also delivering a subpar product because the consumer doesn’t have the choice to go elsewhere. Recognizing the potential harm this may have on consumers, lawmakers have passed several laws to prevent monopolies over the years. And as the report argues, laws in compulsory-union-membership states legally cause union monopolies that are prone to the same negative behaviors business monopolies are.

“Union financial reports reveal that they charge workers roughly 10 percent higher dues and pay their full-time top officers $20,000 more annually in states with compulsory dues,” the report found.

James Sherk, the Heritage scholar who wrote the report, told reporters at a policy forum that the findings aren’t at all surprising, though the subject hasn’t yet been thoroughly studied before then.

“No one’s taken a look at this yet, and I realized the reason no one has taken a look at this yet is it’s only recently the data has become available,” Sherk noted. “In the 2000s, Elaine Chao when she was labor secretary modernized the union financial reporting information. She required the unions to itemize all their expenditures over $5,000 and she basically made all these reports available online.”

“We summarize in the report, it’s roughly 10 percent… higher dues that the unions charge when they can force you to pay dues,” Sherk continued. “When the unions can force you to pay dues they maximize their revenue.”

Sherk argues that the higher dues go to pay the union officers, instead of benefiting union members.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation