Forums » Ideas » Tell Amazon that the commission changes are unfair to workers and will result in lower pay, less work, and the loss of valuable requesters!

Can we put this issue in a larger frame by seeing what Turkers have in common with other platform / on -demand workers? The US, the government, and industry have been watching this issue. The FTC just had a sharing economy workshop, for example. This commission structure thing is just one example of the way platform operators – Amazon, Lyft, Uber – unilaterally make financial “optimizations” that have dire consequences for workers but without any kind of consultation with or participation by workers. I would suggest that the efforts that go into mturkgate try and appeal to the interests of a broader set of people than Turk requesters and Turkers by showing how this struggle actually matters for so many people who may become Lyft drivers, Uber drivers, on-demand dog walkers, etc some day.

Can you imagine, for example, if Uber and Lyft drivers did a sympathy work slow down to support implementation of a rule that workers need to vote on and approve platform changes spearheaded by Turkers? I know this seems big and more medium- or long-term, but we should be thinking at the level of the platform-economy for some of these issues. If we’re not developing worker-friendly / flexible ideas for protections, companies will continue to do things like this and the government may take protective/regulatory moves that workers may not actually like.

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aggressive_gorilla and light_dragonfly

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For an example of debates about a new class of worker for platform / on-demand workers, see this recent Buzzfeed articles: http://www.buzzfeed.com/carolineodonovan/meet-the-new-worker-same-as-the-old-worker

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aggressive_gorilla and light_dragonfly

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Can we put this issue in a larger frame by seeing what Turkers have in common with other platform / on -demand workers? The US, the government, and industry have been watching this issue. The FTC just had a sharing economy workshop, for example. This commission structure thing is just one example of the way platform operators – Amazon, Lyft, Uber – unilaterally make financial “optimizations” that have dire consequences for workers but without any kind of consultation with or participation by workers. I would suggest that the efforts that go into mturkgate try and appeal to the interests of a broader set of people than Turk requesters and Turkers by showing how this struggle actually matters for so many people who may become Lyft drivers, Uber drivers, on-demand dog walkers, etc some day.

Can you imagine, for example, if Uber and Lyft drivers did a sympathy work slow down to support implementation of a rule that workers need to vote on and approve platform changes spearheaded by Turkers? I know this seems big and more medium- or long-term, but we should be thinking at the level of the platform-economy for some of these issues. If we’re not developing worker-friendly / flexible ideas for protections, companies will continue to do things like this and the government may take protective/regulatory moves that workers may not actually like.

I’m interning at Microsoft Research right now (which is just outside Seattle, which is where Amazon HQ is located). My project this summer has had me making a lot of contacts in groups that access a ton of drivers (many for Uber, but also Lyft, Wingz, Sidecar, etc…). I know that sounds vague and I’ll tell more about my work some other time, but it’s not super relevant to this discussion.

The point is that Uber drivers have had some similar complaints as Turkers right now - Uber promised to pay something like $1.35 per mile when many of them signed up, but then Uber changed their pay rate to like… under $1. All of a sudden drivers who had leased cars (sometimes with Uber as a co-signer!) found themselves unable to break even no matter how many jobs they took.

It’s not exactly the same grievance that Turkers have, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t sympathize with what’s happening here.

It’s still a long shot (and might be a long-term goal, like you said), but I’d be happy to mention these recent events to drivers and see if they’d be willing to participate in a protest for a cause that encompasses all short-term workers. I want to emphasize that it’d be very risky for them (if a rider complains, the driver risks getting deactivated, and a slowdown might also mean a higher fare, which might make riders angry), but it’s not impossible!

There are less precarious ways to raise awareness and get people thinking about Turkers. As one example, drivers could make a point to mention what Amazon is doing on every ride that happens to pass or go anywhere near Amazon HQ. I live in Seattle and see people with Amazon t-shirts and whatnot, so I imagine the bad PR coming from Uber drivers all over Seattle would really make employees wonder what the AMT dev team is doing to bring this much heat on Amazon.

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gorgeous_monarch_butterfly and aggressive_gorilla

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Are there any updates? New coverage, etc? Because if it died down this quickly, nothing’s going to stop Amazon from going ahead with their plans. A quick 3-4 day protest is nothing to them. We need solid efforts, and I’m worried now about the state of this.

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gorgeous_monarch_butterfly and light_dragonfly

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I agree that we need solid efforts, and there’s a lot of potential here. Yesterday a journalist called me who wanted to know more about how Dynamo relates to the recent Uber news (employee vs. contractor). So I think this could get a lot of coverage when it launches.

Do you have any ideas? Is there anything I can do to push this forward? So far only dark_bird_of_paradise has contributed to the wiki.

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aggressive_gorilla

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I think the biggest thing is maintaining visibility. Any stories that come up, keeping motivation here, etc.

I have to admit that I’m very lazy at times, but I genuinely think that this is worth the effort and I’m always at the very least willing to try to keep things moving/motivated. I think something that could really help would be to start other topics to keep the member base engaged. Questions about what we can do, discussions about the state of Mturk, etc. Just things to keep us all interested and interacting.

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light_dragonfly

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