Washington Monthly - September/October 2015 - 74

STOP CHISELING THE ADJUNCTS Colleges' mistreatment of part-time professors shortchanges students too. I n early June, California labor regulators ruled that a driver for Uber, the app-based car service, was, in fact, an employee, not an independent contractor, and deserved back pay. The decision made national news, with experts predicting a coming flood of lawsuits. Two weeks later, FedEx agreed to a $288 million settlement after a federal appeals court ruled that the company had shortchanged 2,300 California delivery drivers on pay and benefits by improperly labeling them as independent contractors. The next month, the company lost another case in a federal appeals court over misclassifying 500 delivery drivers in Kansas. Meanwhile, since January, trucking firms operating out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have lost two major court battles with drivers who 74 September/October 2015 claim that they, too, have been robbed of wages by being misclassified as independent contractors. If you think you notice a pattern here, you're right. After years of inertia, courts and regulators are starting to take on companies that miscategorize employees as contractors in order to avoid wage and benefit costs. With inequality and the declining middle class becoming major issues in the 2016 presidential race, politicians (at least on the Democratic side) are now also vowing to do something about the plight of contingent workers. "I'll crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages," Hillary Clinton said in her big economic policy speech in July. Monte Wolverton By Caroline Fredrickson

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2015

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