In this report, we focus on trends in technology adoption in the retail sector, looking beyond the effects of the current crisis to trace how retailers are using digital technologies in ways that alter the quality and quantity of front-line retail jobs. While we recognize the pandemic’s possible impacts on the retail workplace throughout the report, the bulk of our discussion concerns longstanding trends that appear likely to continue over the next five years or longer.
Future of Work & Workers
Research & Publications
New technologies in the retail sector are likely to mean more monitoring and coercion of workers, and a stronger advantage for large companies like Walmart and Amazon, according to a new report released today from the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center and Working Partnerships USA.
The Effects of Proposition 22 on Driver Earnings: Response to a Lyft-Funded Report by Dr. Christopher Thornberg
Thornberg over-estimates driver gross earnings (before expenses) based on data that is not representative of drivers in California. He also underestimates driver costs. In doing so, he significantly overstates what drivers earn on net now, and would earn under Proposition 22.
This report examines the drivers of technological change in the U.S. health care industry and explores how technologies may be used in response to the challenges facing the industry over the next five to 10 years. We also assess how technological change in health care may affect health care workers, who represent 12% of total employment in the United States—around 18 million workers.
A new report from the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center and Working Partnerships USA released today shows how technology is likely to impact job quality in healthcare and suggests that technological adoption may accelerate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
September 3, 2020
Change and Uncertainty, Not Apocalypse: Technological Change and Store-Based Retail
June 23, 2020
Technological Change in Health Care Delivery
June 8, 2020
COVID-19 and Technology at Work
October 22, 2019
The Future of Warehouse Work: Technological Change in the U.S. Logistics Industry
September 4, 2018
Driverless? Autonomous Trucks and the Future of the American Trucker
Uber, Lyft, and AB5
Prop 22 would legalize the companies’ current practice of classifying drivers as independent contractors, preventing them from access to the benefits and protections that employment status offers. Prop 22 does mandate certain pay, reimbursement, and benefit standards for drivers, but there are loopholes in these standards which erode their value.
Under Proposition 22, drivers will not be paid for the time they are waiting to give a ride, nor the time they spend preparing and cleaning their cars. That time accounts for some 33% of the drivers’ working time, Jacobs said, citing a 2019 study that looked at Lyft and Uber rides in six metropolitan areas across the country, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.
According to Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich of the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center, engaged time is only 67 percent of a driver’s shift, and workers under Proposition 22 could make as little as $5.64 an hour. “Not paying for [wait] time would be the equivalent of a fast food restaurant or retail store saying they will only pay the cashier when a customer is at the counter,” they wrote in 2019.
Uber and Lyft say they’ve created a new type of work that deserves new rules. Their opponents say that what these companies have created is an app for an old type of work — employment — and that they only want new rules because it is less expensive than following the existing rules, which guarantee employees protections like minimum wage, overtime, and the right to form a union.
The COVID-19 crisis comes in the middle of a fundamental shift toward more automation and online ordering in grocery retail. In fact, the pandemic is likely to accelerate that change.