Economics in Brief: California Passes Bill to Improve Conditions for Warehouse Workers
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Economics in Brief: California Passes Bill to Improve Conditions for Warehouse Workers

Amazon workers in a warehouse. (Photo by Scott Lewis / CC BY 2.0)

California Passes Bill to Improve Working Conditions for Warehouse Workers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Wednesday that will prevent companies like Amazon from setting productivity quotas that force employees to forgo bathroom breaks and safety measures, the New York Times reports.

California is the first state in the country to pass a warehouse quotas bill. It will protect employees from being punished for taking rest and bathroom breaks, and provides legal pathways for current and former employees to sue over quotas that are unsafe.

The law also requires companies to disclose productivity quotas to employees and government agencies. A report by The Verge reveals that the termination of employees are mostly decided by productivity-tracking algorithms. Managers at Amazon are also instructed not to tell underperforming workers that they are put on a performance management plan and have the risk of being fired, the Seattle Times reports.

“The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” said Gov. Newsom in a statement.

However, business groups like the California Retailers Association strongly opposed the bill, arguing it would increase costs for consumers and eliminate jobs.

DC Launches $5 Million Bond Program for Small Businesses

Instead of applying for loans from banks or government agencies, small business owners can now get loans from their own community, Technical.ly reports.

Partnering with SMBX, a crowdfunding platform, Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the Rebuild Bond program that allows local investors to put their money directly into small businesses. Small business owners will apply through SMBX. Qualified applicants could receive from $25,000 to $250,000 in investment, according to the company. The District is investing $500,000 in the program. In a press release, the District says the investment will fuel $5 million in bonds from individual investors to small and local businesses.

“This tool is one more way we can work together to create jobs and opportunity in all eight wards, support our favorite small and local businesses, and uplift entrepreneurs who are invested in our people, culture, and neighborhoods,” said Bowser in the press release.

Program director Annie Eser told Technical.ly that SMBX will handle the crowdfunding paperwork for businesses after they’re approved for loans and market them out to potential investors through their platform.

NYC Will Vote on New Food Delivery App Bills to Secure Better Working Conditions

New York City lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a package of six bills that will improve working conditions for app-based food delivery workers. The new bills, secure minimum pay per trip, access to bathrooms and limit the distance couriers can be asked to deliver, THE CITY reports.

This makes NYC the first major city in the country to set laws protecting app-based workers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced his support on Wednesday, prior to the vote.

“The exploitation of delivery drivers is unacceptable. City Hall wholeheartedly supports these bills to protect delivery workers and deeply appreciates the grassroots organizing of Los Deliveristas Unidos to make this possible,” Bill Neidhardt, a de Blasio spokesperson, told THE CITY.

One delivery app company, Grubhub, had already announced support for the package of bills. Other companies, such as DoorDash and UberEats, have yet to release any statement.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter. The Bottom Line is made possible with support from Citi.

Tags: new york citywashington, d.c.small businesscalifornialaborgig economyamazon

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