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Uber to Get Boost with Independent Contractor Ruling

Uber to Get Boost with Independent Contractor Ruling

Good news for the ride-sharing community. On Tuesday Uber got a gigantic boost after its IPO valuation launched below expectations. In what is being called an “advice memorandum” from the Office of the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) addressed to one of its regional directors, the agency decided that Uber’s control over UberX and Uber Black drivers “by minimally impacting economic and entrepreneurial opportunity” suggests the proper designation for drivers is independent contractor.

The NLRB arrived at this decision by studying its determination on “SuperShuttle.” Here they ruled that drivers are also not employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

The agency stated, “Indeed, UberX drivers had more entrepreneurial opportunity than the drivers in {the SuperShuttle case}, who could control their earnings by selecting specific trips based on profitability, because UberX drivers could base decisions about where and when to log in on time-limited earnings opportunities like ‘surge’ fares and their total freedom to work for competitors.”

Ultimately, this ruling was based on the study of cases between 2015 and 2016 from drivers in three markets: St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; and Brooklyn, New York.

Positive Developments for Gig Economy

Interestingly enough, this suggestion is the second such one to happen lately regarding the gig-economy. Another one occurred on April 29 by the US Department of Labor.

Achieving a worker classification designation is crucial to Uber. In fact, the company made a point to note the cost of lawsuits as a reason for its lower than expected IPO valuation. If this current ruling would have favored a worker designation, this would have proved costly to the company. Consequently, for the ride-sharing world this was positive news.

What do you guys think?

Automakers Clash with Used Car Dealers for Control of African Market

Automakers Clash with Used Car Dealers for Control of African Market

Visit any city in sub-Saharan Africa and you’ll notice the busy streets are bustling with second-hand cars.

Currently, the African auto market is dominated by used cars imported from Japan and the Middle East. These vehicles are the most affordable path to vehicle ownership in many African countries and have commanded the market for years. However, the world’s leading auto manufacturers would like that to change.

A BUMPY ROAD

The popularity of second-hand vehicles is a major roadblock for car companies looking to crack the promising African market by establishing local production.

Consequently, auto giants like Toyota, Nissan, BMW, and others have come together to form the AAAM (African Association of Automotive Manufacturers). Together, their goal is to persuade governments to reduce the used car imports that have made the African market so impenetrable.

TIDES TURN

Four years after its formation, the AAAM has begun to see changes. The head of Volkswagen in Africa says that the potential for new cars has gone up from 420,000 to 4 million in just two years.

However, their efforts depend on how willing African governments are to limit second-hand imports. Additionally, a factor is how price-competitive new vehicle makers are with their tariffs.

Even though Africa is home to 1 billion inhabitants, it only accounts for one percent of the world’s new vehicle sales, most of those going to South Africa. In particular, The AAAM is eyeing Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya as potential manufacturing centers.

These countries, eager to create jobs, have offered automakers tax holidays and duty-free imports of parts used in local manufacturing.  Though the frameworks are yet to be finalized, companies are already investing millions of dollars in plants.

MARKET CHALLENGES

Currently, the influx of used cars coming from Japan is the biggest obstacle to the developing market. Japan has strict vehicle regulations that force cars out of circulation after only a few years. These vehicles are then exported to Africa and sold for cheap.

In an attempt to curb the issue, Kenya plans to diminish imports of cars more than three years old by 2021. This regulation is expected to double prices of mid-range vehicles. Consequently, opponents say it will significantly hinder the middle class from owning cars. Additionally, used cars are a large source of tax revenue in many African countries, and governments will have to adapt to this loss.

OPPOSING THOUGHTS

Is the move to establish local production a positive or a negative for the economy of Africa? Opponents cite the effort to dominate the African market as yet another example of foreign interests interfering with the welfare of the local economy. Others, however, claim it will help create new jobs and significantly boost the African auto market. What do you think? Comment below to let us know what you think!

The Tesla Pickup Truck is Right Around the Corner

The Tesla Pickup Truck is Right Around the Corner

There’s a new Tesla model coming to town… and it’s got everyone excited. In fact, CEO of the EV automaker, Elon Musk, claimed he is very excited for this new Tesla model. And it is not the Model Y crossover that recently came out. The new project? A Tesla pickup truck.

And while it does not yet have a name, this new pickup truck should come out sometime within this year. Apparently, back in December of 2017, Musk announced that the release of the pickup truck come after the Model Y – and we’ve reached that time.

And although it is unclear when, there are some ideas as to what the truck looks like and what it might be able to do. In fact, some rendered images are available to look at. Some believe that the new pickup resembles a Ram 1500. And, Tesla equipped the new pickup with a fold-down front liftgate. In addition, just like the other Tesla models, people expect the new pickup truck to have a “frunk.”

On Twitter, Musk released a teaser image of the truck, as well. This indicates that the truck should be released shortly. Or, at least, the design for the truck has been finished and finalized. As a result, in his Twitter post, Musk referred to the truck as the “Tesla cyberpunk truck.”

And this isn’t the only electric truck on the way to the mainstream. More are on the way, including the Rivian R1T and the Bollinger B2. Both of those trucks are on the way to production soon. In fact, even Chevrolet and Ford claim that they have electric trucks brewing in their respective companies.

What do you think of the new Tesla pickup truck? Will the other companies come up with something worthy of competition?

Biking Dangers in Boston: Killed Cyclist Honored in “Ghost Bike” Ceremony

Biking Dangers in Boston: Killed Cyclist Honored in “Ghost Bike” Ceremony

On Sunday, people throughout the Boston community joined together to remember a Cambridge woman killed in a bicycle accident. Her name? Paula Sharaga, a sixty-nine-year-old woman. A cement truck hit and killed her while she was riding her bike in the Fenway area. This awful incident occurred earlier this month. Bicycle safety is an issue in any major city, but especially in Boston. The city is cluttered with many narrow and poorly designed roads, including very limited bike lanes. Many cyclists have to ride dangerously close to vehicles on the roads.

Therefore, to honor Sharaga, the community put together a “Ghost Bike” ceremony. This honored her life as well as raised awareness about bike safety. Essentially, people in the community joined together in a bike ride in honor of Sharaga.

Now, family and friends remember Sharaga as an avid bicycle rider. They saw her also as an active member of the community, and a children’s librarian. In addition, she brought joy to the lives of many throughout her life.

The accident occurred in the area of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive. A sixty-seven-year old man from Salem drove the Boston Sand & Gravel that struck Sharaga. When emergency crews arrived, they transported her to the hospital. Later, she died at the hospital.

How can we increase bicycle safety in the city?

Many commuters believe that the city needs to do more to protect cyclists on the roads in order to prevent these tragedies. While drivers should take more caution in watching out for cyclists, perhaps with more bike lanes and other changes, the roads would be safer. Apparently, the intersection where the cement truck hit Sharaga was not designed well, especially for cyclists.

What do you think the city should do to prevent these tragic accidents and increase bicycle safety? How can automobile drivers and bicyclists better share the roads?

Truck Driving in High Winds

Truck Driving in High Winds

With Boston winter weather comes difficult Boston roads. This is especially a problem for truck drivers. While snow, ice, and rain can be tricky for all drivers, truck driving in high winds can be very difficult and dangerous. High winds are sometimes underestimated.

But, any driver who has experienced it knows the difficulty firsthand. The drive becomes risky for both you and other drivers on the road. So, before heading out into the windy streets, take a look at some of these tips for driving trucks in high winds.

Check Forecast and Wind Speeds

Before starting your drive, it is important to check the forecast. Are there any high winds predicted for the area of your drive? What are the speeds of the winds? Winds up to 60 miles per hour can actually overturn a trailer. So, it is better to know what weather conditions you’ll be facing beforehand in order to better prepare. Wind speeds from 40 miles per hour and up are dangerous for your truck, but can be manageable if less than 60, depending on the weight of the load you have.

And, before heading out into the windy drive, you should also double check your truck. Make sure everything is secure when you inspect your truck before leaving. This will help avoid any damages or shifting due to the wind and shakiness of the trailer.

Your Safety is Top Priority

Another tip to consider is using an alternative route to get to your destination. While you might have to drive longer to avoid truck driving in high winds, it can be worth it for safety and security. If another route is not helpful enough, simply stop driving.

If the wind conditions are hitting your trailer so badly that you can’t drive anymore, the best option is to pull over in a safe area and park. The best places to park are usually behind bigger buildings that block the wind, or park facing the wind. Your safety should be your top priority!

So, don’t let the winds blow you off course. Keep these tips in mind when truck driving in high winds, and stay safe on the roads for the remainder of this winter season!

Free Fun in Boston NYE Weekend

Free Fun in Boston NYE Weekend

Bostonians… New Years Eve weekend is just around the corner. While Christmas has come and gone, there is still fun and celebrations to be had throughout the city. And, with it, there are plenty of events, shows, and activities to participate in. While you may have spent your last spare dollars over the Christmas holiday, you don’t have to worry. You can still head out for a bit of free fun this Boston NYE weekend!

Lights

If you haven’t been there already, you can still check out the Christmas tree at Marketplace Center at Faneuil Hall. They are still putting on the Blink! Light and Sound Show ever half hour. The show features some favorite holiday songs in sync with the blinking lights. This will continue until the first of January.

For more art and lights you can head over to Somerville and check out their new art installation: nightLIGHTS. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone teamed up with the Somerville Arts Council to bring bright artwork to public spaces. The art was created by Chinese artist Wen Yu and Lam Partners, the light design consulting firm. You can view their pieces outside the East Somerville Library as well as in Davis Square Plaza and Union Square Plaza.

Music

While you are in Somerville, you can also stroll through their Winter Farmers Market from 9:30 am to 2pm on Saturday. They will have food from local vendors and even some live music. The jazz-pop duo, Fashionflower plans to perform.

For more free musical fun, there is the Boston Baroque Free Community Concert on Sunday, starting at 2 pm. The Boston Baroque is North America’s first Baroque orchestra. Viewers will love this free Bach and Vivaldi concerti. The Grammy-nominated orchestra is sure to put on a fantastic performance of “Brandenburg Concerto No 4 in G Major.” Simply register your tickets online beforehand to secure a spot at the show!

So, keep these events in mind when you are planning your Boston NYE weekend. Even if your budget is tight, you can still enjoy the fun of the holiday season!  

Tyler Thornburg Comes to an Agreement with the Red Sox

Tyler Thornburg Comes to an Agreement with the Red Sox

Lately, there have been many disputes about how Tyler Thornburg’s break from the Red Sox should be handled. On Friday, November 30, 2018, the Red Sox announced they have come to an arrangement of a one-year deal, despite Thornburg’s relief from the team.

Fans, unsure about the deal, are uneasy with his abandonment of the team in September. In summary, Tyler Thornburg was unable to play for the 2017 season due to an intensive surgery. This surgery was to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, but the pitcher was supposed to return to the mound in 2018. Although he did return to the team, he left after playing in 25 games. The player claimed it was to better focus his efforts on the upcoming 2019 year, especially since he performed with a 5.63 ERA.

Taking advantage of his full off-season, the player hopes to redeem himself to his former glory. As one of the best pitchers for the Milwaukee Brewers, he went 8-5 with a 2.15 ERA and was able to strike out more than 12 batters for every 9 innings. Hopeful towards a successful year, Thornburg’s deal is estimated to be about $1.75 million for the year.

The team itself also plans to create 29 new contracts for the upcoming year. These twenty-nine unsigned players are a new addition to their big-league roster. Also, ten Red Sox players have already signed deals for the next season. Presently, they have a single opening on their forty-man roster.

It’s times like this that the team looks to the fans for their support. Winning the World Series in 2018, the Red Sox hope to continue their winning streak and form a great team for the upcoming season.

Take a Second Look at Boston: Alternative Ways to Explore The City

Take a Second Look at Boston: Alternative Ways to Explore The City

Boston is known for its Faneuil Hall and the Samuel Adams Brewery. But let’s have a look at the bunch of alternatives to the most touristy restaurants, markets, monuments, and parks in Boston.

If you have ever been to Boston, you probably joined the hungry crowd gathered for shrimp cocktails and platters of oysters at the Union Oyster House. This historic place has been serving its clients since 1826.

The North End’s Neptune Oyster is a better alternative for the phenomenal East and West Coast oysters. It also has a fairly reasonable wait time.

This place is also perfect for date nights or, why not, after-work oyster slurping. You will be served with daily seafood specials, as well as a stellar lobster with fries. Yummy!

In case you are looking for a bakery everywhere you go and want to avoid long lines, check out Bova’s Bakery at Salem Street. You won’t believe, it’s open 24 hours.

No trip goes without shopping, right? For boutiques, galleries, specialty stores check out Charles Street in Boston’s Historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. Enjoy getting new stuff in a more relaxed neighborhood atmosphere.

During lunchtime, you will see the crowd of tourists fighting for oversized pretzels in front of Faneuil Hall.

To have irresistible apple cider doughnuts come to Boston Public Market. You can also get edible souvenirs, such as a bottle of local craft beer from Hoopsters Alley and a jar of honey from the Boston Honey Company.

When it comes to Boston, you have everything in one place.  For entertainment, Arnold Arboretum is a wonderful place to get to know with 4000 kinds of trees, vines, and shrubs.

The scent of the lilac collection from Explorers Garden will amaze you.

To sum up your wonderful trip, visit the Boston Fire Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With free admission, and, bonus for kids- a real firehouse dog named Sparky.

Simply enjoy!

Do You Believe in Witchcraft ? Visiting Boston in Fall Will Make You Do So

Do You Believe in Witchcraft ? Visiting Boston in Fall Will Make You Do So

If you haven’t been in Boston during fall, you have missed out the cities’ amazing experience of the season.

Fall in Boston reminds a fairy tale with its richly colored foliage and crisp breezes. The scent of apples and pumpkins is everywhere.

If you decided to make it to Boston in fall, keep on reading. Boston has lots to offer.

For visitors, the best way to see more and to pay less is getting a Go Boston Card with the number of Boston area activities included.

Would you like to go back in time and see how it felt living like that? Well, visiting Boston Historic Salem will take you back to New England. Historic Salem is the oldest and most historic area of the United States. Feel history breathing down your neck in New England.

This area will give you the most amazing Halloween dominating October feel. Tourists who love scary and mysterious happenings in the fall are welcome to Boston Historic Salem.

There is nothing more appropriate than visiting The Salem Witch Museum for Halloween. It’s a must see for the whole family. Make the best of Halloween by having fun at the museum and also keeping yourself informed about historical context.

Do you believe in witchcraft? You better start!

At the museum, you will be exposed midwives and healers to witch hunts and Wiccans. You will be introduced to the story of the witch hysteria of 1962 in an educational, thought-provoking way. The gift shop of the museum sells everything from craftsman wares to the most intriguing Halloween costumes you will ever see.

Don’t forget to grab an original souvenir for your friends from the gift shop.

Boston is all about history. Take the longish Freedom Trail Tour to get to know the history of the colonial area. The tour is fun and educational at the same time.

Get dressed appropriately for being outside for hours. Boston can be breezy, especially close to the water.

Enjoy beautiful Fall season in Boston!

Boston Plans to Position itself as a Home for Start-ups

tech officeBoston is one of the top cities in America for start-ups, including 2016 and 2017 and venture investment in the Boston metro area. It hit $5.2 billion so far this year, according to Tech Crunch.

The city also has invested in various tech projects and aims to position itself as “a home for start-ups and other entrepreneurial activity,” as the National Endowment for the Arts website informs.

The Boston Globe has recently reported that Takeoff Technologies, a Boston-based tech company, recently raised $24 million from investors. The Series B funding round was led by Forrestal Capital and brings the startup’s total venture capital haul to $46 million.

Barry Canton, co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, informed “CNBC Make It” the city of Boston has been greatly helpful for the prosperity of the company. The company builds made-to-order microbes for customers in markets such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals and food. He mentioned that the company connects with the talent at MIT, Harvard and other universities and industries. And this wouldn’t be anywhere possible.

Akili Interactive Labs, a Boston-based startup, develops mobile video games intended to assess and treat a range of cognitive disorders. The company reported it licensed technology that aims to improve brain function through a combination of cognitive tasks and physical movement.

Indigo Agriculture, an agricultural technology start-up, has recently closed $250 million to launch digital farmer’s market. David Perry, CEO and the president of Indigo Agriculture agrees that Boston has a strong group of biotechnology investors who are open to exploring innovative technologies.

Moreover, the entrepreneurs believe that living in a diverse and cultured city ensures a high quality of life for the team and their families.

According to the Global Livability Index, Massachusetts is ranked one of the top 10 states to live in 2018, and Boston is the fifth most livable city in America.