Instawork algorithmic hotel workers' 'union-busting'

Occurred: July 2023

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Gig working app Instawork has been automatically punishing workers involved in strikes over pay, conditions and housing costs at hotels in California, according to an unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Unite Here, which represents over 30,000 hospitality workers in southern California, said at least six hotels have been using Instawork to replace striking workers, and that staff on strike were being unfairly penalised by having their shifts cancelled and their ratings cut. Workers that appealed were automatically rejected by the app. 

Striking is a protected activity under US labour law. An Instawork spokesperson told Reuters the app does not 'retaliate against (workers) for engaging in protected activity, whether related to political and/or union activity or otherwise.'

Operator: El Segundo Marriott; Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa; Hilton Anaheim
Developer: Garuda Labs  
Country: USA
Sector: Travel/hospitality
Purpose: Match employers with job-seekers  
Technology: Job matching algorithms; Machine learning
Issue: Employment - pay/compensation
Transparency: Governance