[Plura-list] Workers want real jobs; Canadians! #NoSiteBlocking

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Thu May 27 12:28:26 EDT 2021

Today's links

* Workers want real jobs: Bosses want contract, temp and gig workers.

* Canadians! #NoSiteBlocking: You have until May 31 to send comments
against Bill C-10.

* This day in history: 2011, 2016, 2020

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🩰 Workers want real jobs

"Saying the quiet part out loud," is a cliche, but like so many shopworn
phrases, it has its roots in real truths that bear repetition.

Back in 2017, a bunch of Wall Street bros *shouted* the quiet part out loud.


The occasion was an American Airlines earnings call in which management
revealed that the company had recorded solid profits and was going to
use some of them to bring pilots and flight-attendants wages up to
parity with Delta and United.

Wall Street *lost its shit*. The iconic example was Citi analyst Kevin
Crissey, who whined:

"This is frustrating. Labor is being paid first again."

Wall Street agreed with Crissey. AA's share price plummeted.


Crissey was voicing a fundamental truth:

Irrespective of how much profit a company makes, the investors' earnings
go up when the workers' earnings go down.

Now, it's true that happy, secure workers can be more productive and
secure higher profits, but that doesn't automatically mean that paying
higher wages will make more money for shareholders.

If the additional sums needed to make workers happy and secure swallow
the excess profits that security generates, then investors are better
off with miserable, scared, unproductive workers.

Not only that: if the investors' position is short-term, looking for the
highest yield over a single quarter or even less, the fact that higher
wages will lead to *long-term* advantages, like worker retention and
productivity, is irrelevant to the investors' interests.

That's the quiet part: between workers and investors, there's a zero-sum
game. Forty years of anti-labor policies (undermining unions, workplace
protections) culminating in the "gig economy" all-out assault on the
*idea of employment itself* have papered over this core truth.

While gig economy companies were spending $200m in deceptive scare-ads
to pass California's Prop 22 - which formalized worker
misclassification, allowing bosses to fire employees and re-hire them as
union-ineligible "independent contractors" - they insisted this was good
for workers.

"Worker flexibility" has been the rallying cry of the shareholder class
for decades - even as they maximized *employer* flexibility and bound
workers in legal and economic shackles.

The number one source of noncompete agreements in America today is
fast-food chains - where a sub-starvation minimum-wage (or tipped
minimum) job is likely to come with a legal prohibition on taking a
better job in the industry for *three years* after you quit this one.

Thus bound over to their employers, workers were subjected to zero-hours
contracting terms, where you are not guaranteed *any* shifts in a given
week, but must take *all* shifts you are offered.

If you're scheduled for a graveyard shift until 3AM and then a morning
shift the next day that starts at 6AM, you have two choices - take the
double-shift or look for work elsewhere (just not in the same industry).

This "flexibility" transfers all the value from the employees' side of
the ledger to the bosses'. Bosses get to schedule based on demand, or in
order to ensure that workers don't cross the weekly hours threshold that
would entitle them to benefits.

Workers, meanwhile, can't schedule another job, or childcare, or
continuing education. There's a tiny minority of legit freelancers
(including me) for whom contract work is genuinely beneficial - but
almost every "independent contractor" is actually a misclassified employee.

A new McKinsney-Ipsos poll shows up the myth of the happy, flexible
contract worker. 62% of gig workers overall want real jobs - that number
rises sharply for PoCs in gig jobs: for immigrant workers, the figure is


As striking as that figure is, it is even more significant when places
alongside another finding: 70% of *employers* want to fire their workers
and replace them with part-timers, temps and gig workers.

Employers have always been comfortable with waging class war - they just
don't like to talk about it.

The poll found that most Americans have a poor economic outlook and half
of US workers are "on the brink of financial ruin."

Despite neoliberal rhetoric, a firm that replaces jobs with
gig/contract/temp roles is not engaged in "job creation."

That is literal job *destruction* - turning "jobs" into precarious,
sub-starvation contracts with no rights or protections.

Workers *do* want "flexibility" - like protection from noncompetes (the
flexibility to take a better job), from arbitration waivers (the
flexibility to sue your abusive boss).

Workers want protection from arbitrary shift assignments (the
flexibility to plan your family and other work and life activities),
universal health care, child care and sick leave (the flexibility to
take care of your health without losing your job and home).

Flexibility is great, but like wages, it's zero-sum. The more
flexibility workers have, the less flexibility their employers have.
Giving workers flexibility means depriving employers of the flexibility
to abuse, underpay and fire those workers.

Workers are wise to that fact. The quiet part has been said out loud,
forcefully and for a long time.


🩰 Canadians! #NoSiteBlocking

Canada's Bill C-10 is a federal regulation of Canadians' online
expression, from podcasts, social media and blogs to other
user-generated content.

Despite claims from the ruling Liberals that opposition to this bill is
Tory partisanship, this is a universal issue.

As always, Michael Geist has had the best analysis of how C-10 goes well
beyond the government's claims of modest and sensible rules of the road,
instead empowering the CRTC to order blocks and takedowns of otherwise
legal content.

Here's Geist on why the bill does not pass muster with the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms:


On why it covers user-generated content:


On the true scope of the bill, including "News Sites, Podcast and
Workout Apps, Adult Websites, Audiobooks, and Sports Streamers."


On the inevitability of site-blocking under C-10:


On the incompatibility of C-10 with Net Neutrality:


and on the bad faith, Trumpian cries of "fake news" by the Liberal
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault.


Contrary to M Guibeault's smears, opposition to C-10 isn't a Tory
conspiracy. I have never carried water for the Tories - I've rung
doorbells to campaign against them federally, provincially, municipally,
and internationally, when I lived in the UK.

The Liberals' track record on internet regulation is terrible (remember
Sam Bulte's jeremiad against "user-rights zealots"?), but the Tories are
even worse. Long before Tony Clement was caught sending pictures of his
junk to random women, he was ramming through Canada's DMCA.

Indeed, it's precisely because I know how Stephen Harper would have
weaponised C-10 that I want it staked through the heart.

(And if you think Harper's C-10 would be bad, imagine PM Doug Ford
wielding it - or PM Faith Goldy)

The Heritage Ministry is accepting comments on C-10 until May 31. Today
is the #NoSiteBlocking national day of action, organised by Openmedia.ca.

They've got a page of bilingual resources for filing your comments:


Bill C-10 is a gift to Canada's outrageous telecoms monopolies: Bell,
Shaw and Rogers. Canada has spent decades treating telecoms and internet
laws as political conveniences, ignoring the digital divide, monopolism
and the consequences of mass surveillance.

It's time the country treated the care, maintenance and growth of its
digital nervous system with the gravitas and public interest it warrants
- even if that means slight reductions in profits to the monopolists who
have served Canadians so poorly.


🩰 This day in history

#10yrsago Bernie Sanders introduces anti-pharma-patent bill, aims to
replace drug monopolies with prizes

#5yrsago Wealthy families are most responsible for American wealth
segregation https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0003122416642430

#5yrsago Wells Fargo, who preyed on black borrowers, sponsors Black
Lives Matter luncheon

#5yrsago Scott Walker, saddled with $1.2m debt from failed presidential
bid, pawns his own donors

#5yrsago US trade rep threatens Colombia’s peace process over legal plan
to offer cheap leukemia meds

#5yrsago Security researcher discovers glaring problem with patient data
system, FBI stages armed dawn raid

#1yrago Ammosexuals point their guns at their crotches

#1yrago West Virginia's governor Jim Justice: billionaire, deadbeat

#1yrago Hertz's bankruptcy was caused by private equity looting

#1yrago Facebook shelved research that showed they were sowing division

#1yrago Youtube is automatically blocking criticism of the Chinese
Communist Party


🩰 Colophon

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests.
Yesterday's progress: 385 words (2813 words total).

* A short story about consumer data co-ops.  PLANNING

* A Little Brother short story about remote invigilation.  PLANNING

* A nonfiction book about excessive buyer-power in the arts, co-written
with Rebecca Giblin, "The Shakedown."  FINAL EDITS

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: How To Destroy Surveillance Capitalism (Part 06)

Upcoming appearances:

* In conversation with David Dayen (Second Life Book Club), Jun 4,

* Book launch for Terry Miles's Rabbits (Book Soup), Jun 7,

Recent appearances:

* Get Your News On With Ron/Ron Placone:

* Seize the Means of Computation, Consensus 2021

* How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism:

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:
(signed copies:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* The Shakedown, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics,
Beacon Press 2022

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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
Guy" DeVilla

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