Thursday, August 30, 2018

The "gig economy" may be humbling, but it builds on skills people have; maybe UBI and single payer would support it

Louis Hyman has an interesting piece on Medium where we accept the “gig economy” and support it with universal basic income and some various tax supports.
He supports the idea of people using the skills they have to form small businesses when they get laid off, rather than having to be retrained (“coal miners to data miners”).

The sharing economy is certainly part of that.  But he thinks the sharing economy works better if you do support the basics with single payer health care and UBI.
To some extent, it’s less sexy.  It’s sort of like Nicholas Taleb’s “skin in the game” thinking.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Employers screen social media, and may actually shun job applicants without social media accounts

On Saturday, NBC News reported that an increasing number of employers are using social media posts to monitor employees and screen job applicants.  This applies to posts made on one’s own devices and on one’s own time.  Here is the video link.

The video reported that 70% of major employers now evaluate social media.  One person was fired for a post of his passing gas on the job.

What’s surprising is that up to 50% said they would not hire people with no social media accounts at all.  For example, had I become a teacher in the mid 2000’s I think I would have refrained from setting up social media accounts at all.  I would be concerned about the "compelled speech" potentiality. 
I don’t use SnapChat or WhatsApp.  I have LinkedIn (not used much), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (not used much), and beaucoup blogs and books.
The legal video above suggests that employers never ask for passwords, and screen only public posts, and after the first interview. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

San Francisco wants to ban tech companies from giving free lunches; "protectionism" for restaurants?

San Francisco is trying to get tech companies to stop giving free lunches, possibly with an ordinance, as in this Fox News video.

The reason is to help local restaurants.  Here we have a local government picking winners and losers.  Well, the big companies can’t be losers.

This sounds like protectionism.  It's like complaining about me because I give away too much of my own material free, competing "unfairly" with other authors or not helping booksellers have more job openings. 
Tech companies are also known to offer free meals at generous cafeterias on their main campuses.
Some companies offer free coffee.  But others have clean desk policies!  (Think about a bank with a desk visible from the street.)  Some pundits want to abolish lunch.  For walkthroughs, I’m used to having a donut run (at least in Dallas) first.  Good for hypoglycemia.  At Bradford National in New York, we did have a caterer who came by and sold delicious sandwiches, at $3.50 a pop in 1978 (even on the day the Yankees took the pennant from the Red Sox with Bucky Dent’s homer). 
There could be a good question as to whether the free meal is taxable compensation. For example, employers almost never pay commuting expenses (although some do have discount transit passes and may have van services).  They generally don’t pay relocation for new employees (although they did when I started working in 1970) or interviewing expenses (although they did again when I was leaving the Army with the late 1969 interviews).
Wikipedia attribution link for CoastoCoast picture of ATT Giants stadium in San Francisco, CCSA 3.0. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Can you prudently hire an undocumented person not here legally, ever?

Can a small employer “help out” in the current immigration controversies by hiring an asylum seeker or other immigrant, if the person does not have proper documentation?
The formal legal requirements are a bit complicated.  Maybe the best reference for explaining the employer’s responsibility is on Nolo, here. It’s possible to go overboard and have discrimination issues, too.

One question concerns hiring someone if you are a small employer, say, hiring a caregiver for an elderly parent.  I can’t find any reference online that says one-employee operations are exempt.  (Back in 1981, I once applied for a job as a mainframe programmer in Dallas in a two-person company.)  You can get around the legal risk if you go to an agency, which is supposed to have done the eligibility checks, and that makes it more expensive. 

However, Nolo says that if you hire someone as an independent contractor you may be relieved of the document verification, but you can get into trouble if you know the person remains here illegally. This sounds like “don’t ask don’t tell” or maybe even FOSTA (the moderator’s paradox).

The Nevada HR Daily Advisor gives a detailed history of how employers became responsible back in 1986 for the legal eligibility of people to work.  It’s gotten worse under Trump. 

The main USCIS page for employers is here.  The government says the E-verify is voluntary. 

Washington DC-based immigration attorney Jason Dzubow has a curious piece of advice on his Asylumist blog post from July 25 (“How Can I Help?”) under the section “Hire an Immigrant” where he notes the true legal ambiguities that the sites I named above don’t seem to address. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Airline pilots shortage looms as a result of an unusual international job market cycle

An odd job cycle may create increased fares and fewer flights for passengers soon.

Airlines are facing a pilot shortage as pilots retire.

But the situation is somewhat exacerbated by the fact than in the middle 2000’s, after 9/11, there had been many pilot layoffs and many pilots went to work for airlines in the Middle East and Asia, where air travel was booming.

Some of those pilots are indeed returning to the US.

Robert Wall and Andrew Tangell provide the story for the WSJ.  The story also appeared on the NBC today show.
I had a friend-acquaintance in 1990 who tried to get me enlisted into his aviation issues.  He disappeared.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

When should old tweets cost someone his (her, "their") job?

Consider the New York Times’s sacking of Quinn Norton last February for his past misdeeds on social media and apparent connections, as outlined here in Wired. 

So then the New York Times stands by the hire of Sarah Jeong  after some of her old tweets surfaced, although she could quickly retort that she was hitting back by simply throwing back offensive tweets into the original offenders’ faces.
Vox explains the comparison today in a piece by Aja Romano. It also covers firings of other high profile people, like director James Gunn.

Jeong’s tweets were much more context dependent. Vox characterizes unearthing of bad tweets as a tactic of the alt-right.  It’s well to note that Norton had worked for The Verge, which belongs to Vox. 
Mike Smercomish compared the two cases on CNN Saturday morning, and didn’t pick up the distinction.  A speaker from National Review said that her behavior was questionable but that she shouldn't be denied a job now for tweets that happened long ago before she was hired, and that are deliberately taken out of context. We are talking about "should".  As a private employer, the a newspapers isn't bound by the First Amendment legally. 

In the past, before modern social media, I paid a lot of heed to “conflict of interest” over self-published and searchable web content. My concern was with positions that impute authority over subordinates or underwriting of customers.

Update: Monday, Aug. 6

Rachel Feintzeig and Vanessa Fuhrmanns write in the Wall Street Journal, "Past social media posts upend hiring: Employers grapple with screening job applicants' online personas, including years' old tweets".  I can say, "I told you so" on this one.  The article talks about the cases above, as well as widespread problems.

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 8

Read Ezra Klein's, "The Problem with Twitter Wars, Explained: Behind our Twitter wars lies Twitter's problems." It's possible to set up your account to delete old tweets.  I doubt many employers actually mine old tweets to look for problems, but it's possible to imagine setting up an HR contracting company to do just that!!   You can also have old Facebook posts deleted automatically.  Not sure about Instagram. This is one reason why some people prefer Snapchat.  I don't feel that way for myself, but I see how many people do.

James Gunn now seems to be in demand again (MSN).

Update: Friday, Aug. 17

Victor David Hanson has a detailed op-ed in the Washington Times Aug. 16 that covers the problem pretty well, here

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Firing of Dulles airport worker dependent on tips raising disturbing questions (not just immigration)

Theresa Vargas has an important story in the Washington Post on the problems of workers who depend on tips but who are told they may not ask for them, in situations where consumers don’t know they should tip.

A legal immigrant from Sierra Leone was fired from a hospitality job at Dulles airport where she assisted handicapped fliers, when she was accused of asking for a tip and not allowed to defend herself.

She had sent money back to Sierra Leone to relatives who wanted to emigrate legally, but that is more difficult now with Trump and Sessions.
The article also gives, incidentally, some of the violent history in that country twenty years ago, which Sebastian Junger had reported on in Vanity Fair.