Uber Seeks Staff Support for Proposal on Drivers as Contractors

Uber app

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. outlined ways staff can support a state measure that would designate drivers as contractors rather than full-time employees, seeking additional backing for a controversial initiative that labor unions and at least one in-house engineer have publicly opposed.

In a companywide email Friday obtained by Bloomberg, Uber’s head of global public policy Justin Kintz said data “show a tight race” to pass California’s Proposition 22, a measure written and funded by Uber, Lyft Inc. and other gig companies that would replace an earlier law designed to treat drivers as employees. Kintz’s email, which includes links to talking points from the Yes on 22 campaign, also suggests ways employees can get involved, including joining a texting bank, and links to a sample email staffers can send to family and friends. Uber will have a special Town Hall-type meeting Oct. 15 to discuss the ballot initiative, featuring several drivers who support it, the email said.

Kintz’s missive highlights the urgency of Uber’s campaign to garner support just weeks before the election for a measure that opponents say will deny drivers crucial benefits. Uber engineer Kurt Nelson came out against the proposition on tech blog TechCrunch this week to flag what he considers overlooked aspects of the measure and encourage workers to do their own research.

Uber’s encouragement of activism contrasts with the mood at some other Silicon Valley companies, including cryptocurrency startup Coinbase Inc., which has banned politicking. Calling it a distraction, Chief Executive Brian Armstrong outlined the prohibition last week and followed up with a severance package offer to any employee who disagreed. About 5% of employees took the package and resigned. Alphabet Inc.’s Google last year posted internal rules that discourage employees from debating politics, telling workers not

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Kent hospital ordered to ‘make significant improvements’ after staff fail to follow Covid-19 hygiene rules

A hospital in Kent has been ordered to ‘make significant improvements’ after staff failed to follow Covid-19 regulations.

a sign in front of a building

© Provided by Evening Standard

Inspectors found that some staff at the William Harvey Hospital, run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, were failing to wash their hands properly after caring for suspected virus patients.

Others seen to wear PPE incorrectly on the Covid-19 ward. Following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on August 11, the watchdog ordered “urgent enforcement action” by requiring that the emergency department was risk-assessed for social distancing and coronavirus risks.

The CQC also found that staff did not always use alcohol hand gel on entering and leaving wards, and at least seven members of staff were seen entering and leaving a ward caring for patients with suspected Covid-19 without washing their hands properly.

The emergency department staff also did not always have access to hand gel or hand washing facilities, with hand sanitiser dispensers remaining empty at both entrances even after the inspectors had raised the issue.

And inspectors found there was an inconsistent approach to triaging patients with Covid-19 symptoms in the emergency department.

Staff did not always wear PPE correctly in the emergency department, including failing to remove it between clinical areas and patient bays, and they did not always use the correct PPE, the inspectors said.

They also highlighted that cleaning schedules were not kept up to date, meaning they were unsure that the wards had been cleaned properly.

a man holding a sign: Urgent action was ordered by the CQC (AFP via Getty Images)

© Provided by Evening Standard
Urgent action was ordered by the CQC (AFP via Getty Images)

The inspectors said that not all rooms had signs to indicate how many people were permitted to be in that area while being able to socially distance, although managers told inspectors that every room should

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Thruway travel plaza contractor laying off staff

ALBANY — Amid a decline in travel, a major employer at New York State Thruway travel plazas has announced plans to lay off 165 of its 350 employees along the roadway.

Despite that, HMSHost says it is keeping the Burger King, Roy Rogers, Starbucks, Sbarro’s and Dunkin’ Donuts it operates along Thruway travel plazas open – but with fewer employees going forward.

The cuts were noted in a recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN filing with the state Department of Labor. Under the federal WARN Act, employers with more than 50 employees must give notice of impending layoffs.

A leading airport and roadway food service company, HMSHost also had its contract with the Thruway Authority extended over the summer due in part to the pandemic.

In addition to Host, some Thruway service areas also offer McDonald’s and other eateries.

The pandemic has led to drops in passenger vehicle highway travel which have cut into the food service business at the rest stops.

As of July, there were approximately 112 million trips on the Thruway, compared to 153 million during the same period in 2019, making for a nearly 27 percent decrease in traffic.

Host has also, for the time being, closed its Starbucks at the Albany International Airport (Chick-fil-A and Silks are still operating at the airport on the takeoff side while Dunkin Donuts remains open on the on land side outside of the secure area).

HMSHost at the start of 2020 opted out of a decades-long arrangement in which it operated Starbucks coffee shops in airports and other travel centers.

The company will continue to run some Starbucks but it no longer has an exclusive agreement.

The HMSHost layoffs are also coming as the remaining toll takers on the state Thruway system are being replaced

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Iowa agency keeps secret the number of COVID-19 staff deaths in nursing homes

Clark Kauffman, Iowa wCapital Dispatch
Published 2:29 p.m. CT Oct. 5, 2020

The Iowa Department of Public Health is refusing to disclose the number of Iowa nursing home workers who have been infected with, or died from, COVID-19.

For months, the department has released only combined staff-and-resident numbers for both infections and deaths in Iowa nursing homes.

The agency has refused requests to separate the number of staff deaths and infections from the number of resident deaths and infections.

The department’s COVID-19 Communications and Emergency Preparedness Planner Alex Carfrae told the Iowa Capital Dispatch Thursday the agency would not provide requested information on staff deaths “due to privacy concerns.”

After being asked to cite the specific law that allows the agency to withhold non-identifying statistical information of that sort, an agency official said the department intends to review its policies and the applicable state laws.

More: Iowa eases visitor limits at nursing homes, where COVID-19 has cut deadly swath

The pandemic’s effect on caregivers is considered particularly important in terms of tracking the spread of the virus in nursing homes. The facilities are home to some of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens, and yet they often make use of temp-agency workers who are deployed to multiple facilities over the course of a week.

Di Findley, who heads Iowa CareGivers, a nonprofit dedicated to building a strong direct-care workforce, said her organization has been unable to obtain staff-specific data on infections and deaths.

“The nursing home industry may not want the number of positive cases or deaths of nursing home workers to be part of the news because it can make it even more challenging to recruit and retain workers, which was a problem before COVID-19,” she said. “However, knowing how many nursing home workers have become infected, hospitalized, or even died

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ASU’s UTO staff cooks up fresh, innovative ideas at Engage 2020

October 5, 2020

This year’s third annual Engage event brought together more than 300 ASU University Technology Office (UTO) staff members across nine work streams to take on leadership roles, brainstorm ideas and gain and exercise new skills.

The two-day internal professional development event was held virtually Sept. 23–24.
Participants at Engage 2020Download Full Image

Following up on the momentum of the ideas constructed by the ASU IT community at Empower 2020, UTO staff spent two hours each day learning, growing and collaborating with colleagues in the form of an idea hackathon. This year’s nine hackathon work streams – submitted by UTO employees and centered around innovation and culture – included:

  • Accessible Dashboard of Dashboards.
  • Activating the Affirmative Pledge.

  • ASU Sync-Up.

  • Authentic Artificial Intelligence.

  • Block-Chain Chain Chain of Tools (See: Aretha!).

  • Emotionally Smart Cities.

  • Help Me Help You: Innovative Boundary-Winning Approaches.

  • Next-Gen Z Networks.

  • Zooming Out of the Meeting Grid.

But first, a word from our CIO

Samantha Becker Lev Gonick

Samantha Becker, executive director of creative and communications, who co-organized the event, kicked things off by welcoming the UTO family and introducing ASU Chief Information Officer Lev Gonick. He shared examples of the top-notch work that ASU UTO has achieved in the last year, including the university’s Daily Health Check initiative, the transformation of the ASU learning environment via ASU Sync and the hundreds of thousands of calls handled by the ASU Experience Center in recent months.

“As I reflect back to last Engage and many of the work streams, much of what has been accomplished was inspired by conversations (from last year),” Gonick said. 

Prep time

Before staff broke out into their hackathon work stream groups, the goals for the two-day immersive event were shared:

Engage 2020 Event Goals

They also received tools, best practices and an introduction to all of the work stream concepts from

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