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Vox Sentences: The gig economy is in trouble

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California Senate passes a landmark bill protecting gig economy workers like drivers and couriers; a rocket explodes in Kabul on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

A win for California contractors

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • A landmark bill to regulate Uber, Lyft, and other gig economy powerhouses was approved in the California Senate on Tuesday, possibly transforming the state’s employment landscape by turning many of its contract workers into full-time employees eligible for minimum wage, benefits, and unionization, among others. [San Francisco Chronicle / Carolyn Said and Dustin Gardiner]
  • Assembly Bill 5, which soared largely on Democratic support on a 29-11 vote, is a victory for independent contractors everywhere as they’ve long been fighting for better pay and improved working conditions. [CNN / Kevin Flower]
  • In a Labor Day op-ed published in the Sacramento Bee, Gov. Gavin Newsom openly endorsed the bill, pledging to protect workers and fight for their rights toward union membership. He will most likely sign it after it goes through the State Assembly. [Sacramento Bee / Gavin Newsom]
  • The law will affect at least a million California workers — from ride-hailing drivers, to construction workers and food-delivery couriers — and is bound to influence other states in following its lead. Already, labor groups in the states of New York, Washington and Oregon are hoping to ride on AB 5’s momentum. [NYT / Kate Conger and Noam Scheiber]
  • The law seems to hold companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Postmates accountable for their practices, as they all had waged a vehement battle to halt the bill’s progress. The former two companies even enlisted drivers to push back against AB 5. [Recode / Alexia Fernández Campbell]
  • Still, three major gig businesses have announced investing tens of millions of dollars toward a possible ballot initiative to undo the bill’s effects. [KQED News / Katie Orr]
  • Silicon Valley has received a major wake-up call this week from both state and foreign legislators in issues regarding respecting their workforce and holding their power at check. AB 5 is just the latest in a series of moves aimed to stop tech abuses, among them being Google and Facebook’s antitrust investigations. [Twitter / Zephyr Teachout]
  • If you’re interested in reading what it’s like to live as a micro-entrepreneur in the gig economy — even as early as 2014 — give Sarah Kessler’s long-form piece from Fast Company a read. [Fast Company / Sarah Kessler]

Another blast in Kabul

  • Shortly after midnight Wednesday, another attack against the US embassy in Kabul was carried out by a yet-unidentified party, a week after the Taliban ordered two car bombs to explode in that location, killing several civilians and two members of the NATO mission. [Al Jazeera]
  • No injuries were reported in the Wednesday blast, which took place on the day of the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The US-led invasion of Afghanistan that followed in 2001 has become the second-longest war in American history. [AP / Cara Anna]
  • The explosion also comes shortly after President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban, originally to be held at the Camp David site Sunday, fell through, after which the president said peace talks are “dead,” and the Taliban promised more bloodshed. [BBC]
  • Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice said on CBS This Morning she was “relieved” the Taliban talks did not pan out, though she defended the nearly two-decade conflict in Afghanistan. [CBS News / Grace Segers]


  • The new iPhones are here. The entry-level iPhone 11 is at $700, while the “Pro”-branded models have the standard 1K price tag. Apple’s streaming service also launches on November 1. [NYT / Jack Nicas and Brian X. Chen]
  • The poverty rate in the US fell to its lowest level since 2001, according to federal data, though more Americans now go without health insurance, which reverses the trend that began when the Affordable Care Act was introduced. [Washington Post / Amy Goldstein and Heather Long]
  • It’s a good week for JLo. As the pop artist begins generating Oscar buzz for her performance in the film “Hustlers,” which just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, rumors also have her being on the shortlist for the Super Bowl Halftime Show this February. The NFL Championship will be held in Miami Gardens, Florida. [Entertainment Tonight / Desiree Murphy]
  • An Arkansas girl’s request to a toy company was as straightforward as can be: “My name is Vivian. I am six years old. Why do you not make girl army men?” So, Jeff Imel, president of BMC Toys — the firm behind the iconic Green Army Men — wrote a letter back saying “it’s happening.” The new figurines will be rolled out by Christmas 2020. [NPR / Bobby Allyn]


“It was the greatest display of domestic bravery in anyone’s memory. The enemy attacking us that day is still killing Americans. We honor all who have kept us safe.” [Rudy Giuliani, who served as New York City mayor during the 9/11 attacks, recalls the tragedy and valor of that day 18 years ago / Twitter]

Watch this: The gun solution we’re not talking about

Universal background checks won’t fix America’s gun crisis. But there’s something else that might. [YouTube / Madeline Marshall]

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