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Uber Drivers 'Employees' For Unemployment Purposes, New York Labor Board Says

Uber Drivers 'Employees' For Unemployment Purposes, New York Labor Board Says

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: New York City’s largest taxi driver advocacy group is hailing a legal decision by the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, which ruled last Friday that three out-of-work Uber drivers can be considered employees for the purpose of unemployment benefits. The decision was first reported Thursday by Politico. In other words, three men — and possibly other “similarly situated” Uber drivers who had quit over low pay or who were deactivated from the Uber platform — can get paid. “The decision means that New York Uber drivers can file for unemployment insurance and likely receive it,” Veena Dubal, a labor law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, emailed Ars. “Uber may appeal the decision to state court, but for now, it’s good law.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, business
New Zealand Firm's Four-Day Week an 'Unmitigated Success'

New Zealand Firm's Four-Day Week an 'Unmitigated Success'

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The New Zealand company behind a landmark trial of a four-day working week has concluded it an unmitigated success, with 78% of employees feeling they were able to successfully manage their work-life balance, an increase of 24 percentage points. Two-hundred-and-forty staff at Perpetual Guardian, a company which manages trusts, wills and estate planning, trialled a four-day working week over March and April, working four, eight-hour days but getting paid for five. Jarrod Haar, professor of human resource management at Auckland University of Technology, found job and life satisfaction increased on all levels across the home and work front, with employees performing better in their jobs and enjoying them more than before the experiment. Work-life balance, which reflected how well respondents felt they could successfully manage their work and non-work roles, increased by 24%. In November last year just over half (54%) of staff felt they could effectively balance their work and home commitments, while after the trial this number jumped to 78%. Staff stress levels decreased by 7 percentage points across the board as a result of the trial, while stimulation, commitment and a sense of empowerment at work all improved significantly, with overall life satisfaction increasing by 5 percentage points.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, business

Uber's CEO Faces an Impossible Decision

With employees critiquing executives in the press, Dara Khosrowshahi must now decide whether to repeat history, or forge a new company culture based on trust.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, business
Two US Hyperloop Startups Line Up Financing From China

Two US Hyperloop Startups Line Up Financing From China

Los Angeles startups Arrivo and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies have reportedly secured financing from Chinese state-backed companies. “Lining up potential funding helps solve one of the biggest obstacles for hyperloop systems: They will be extremely expensive to build,” reports Bloomberg. From the report: Arrivo, founded by a former senior engineer at Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., said it secured a $1 billion credit line with Genertec America Inc., a subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned entity based in Beijing that has helped finance and build high-speed rail and other infrastructure projects in Iran, Turkey and elsewhere. The credit line will go to backers of a future project using Arrivo technology, not to the startup itself. [The Genertec debt could be used to construct a project using the company’s technology anywhere in the world, not necessarily in China.] Separately, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies said it plans to work on a 10-kilometer test track in Tongren, part of China’s Guizhou province, at an initial cost of about $300 million. State entity Tongren Transportation & Tourism Investment Group will provide half the funds and seek private investors for the other half, HyperloopTT said. The precise route is yet to be determined.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, business
Best Buy Is Thriving In the Age of Amazon

Best Buy Is Thriving In the Age of Amazon

Best Buy is turning to in-home consultants to help distinguish it from Amazon. The advisors act as “personal chief technology officers,” helping people make their homes smart or merely more functional. “Unlike the Geek Squad and blue shirts working in stores, they’ll be paid an annual salary instead of an hourly wage,” reports Bloomberg. “Their house calls are free and can last as long as 90 minutes. […] They’re supposed to establish long-term relationships with their customers rather than chase one-time transactions.” From the report: With more than 1,000 big-box stores in North America and about 125,000 employees, Best Buy was supposed to have succumbed to the inevitable. “Everyone thought we were going to die,” says Hubert Joly, who was hired as chief executive officer in August 2012 after profits shrunk about 90 percent in one quarter and his predecessor resigned amid an investigation into his relationship with an employee. Instead, Best Buy has become an improbable survivor led by an unlikely boss.

The in-home advisors went national in September. When one of the trainees at the session in Minneapolis asked Joly how big he hoped the program could become, he said: “I don’t have a specific goal. I don’t think it would be helpful. McKinsey never had a goal of how many clients. It was how good was the work.” Another employee said: “This is why Amazon can’t compete with us. They can’t dispatch an army of in-home agents.” Joly wasn’t as sure. “Amazon is an amazing company,” he replied. “They kill companies. Maybe they will do this. But we have an incredible opportunity. If someone wants to copy, that’s fine.” Amazon has started offering free smart-home consultations and installations. It doesn’t have a chain of big-box stores in which to meet customers, but that didn’t bother investors. Best Buy’s stock dropped 6.3 percent when Amazon announced its plans a year ago.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, business
FCC Vote Likely Dooms Sinclair-Tribune Merger

FCC Vote Likely Dooms Sinclair-Tribune Merger

FCC commissioners unanimously voted on a Hearing Designation Order (HDO) to send the proposed sale of Tribune Media properties to Sinclair to a judge, where the merger is expected to cease. Engadget reports: Earlier this week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai raised “serious concerns” about Sinclair’s selloff of 21 stations it had proposed in order to remain under station ownership limits post-merger. Had Sinclair declined to sell off some stations, its 173 broadcast stations in 81 markets, combined with Tribune’s 42 stations in 33 markets would reach 72 percent of U.S. TV households. The FCC’s National TV Ownership rule “does not limit the number of TV stations a single entity may own nationwide so long as the station group collectively reaches no more than 39 percent of all U.S. TV households.” But the rule is more flexible for stations that broadcast using UHF frequencies. Pai, who has been accused of aiding the merger by relaxing the ownership regulations, said Monday that Sinclair’s plan would allow the company “to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law.” He noted that, “When the FCC confronts disputed issues like these, the Communications Act does not allow it to approve a transaction.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, business