WTF-2020. How Non-Skilled Call Center Gig Workers Are Getting Screwed.
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Have you ever heard of Arise Virtual Solutions? Probably not. And that’s just the way they would like to keep it.

Do you think arbitration clauses in independent contractor agreements are fair and equitable? Think Again.

There are two very distinct classifications for gig economy workers: Skilled and unskilled. If you’re skilled, chances are pretty good that you’re living the dream promoted by the gig economy industry. However, if you’re an unskilled gig worker, chances are just a good that you’re getting screwed. If you’re poor or trapped in a situation with few options, you’re probably living in a never-ending daily crisis. This is our story today – focused on the very real situation millions of unskilled gig economy workers are confronting today, exacerbated by a pandemic here in the US that didn’t need to happen. I’ll be joined in just a minute by my special guest, Heather Bussing.

Welcome to TotalPicture Media and another edition of WTF 2020 AN INFLUENCERS’ GUIDE TO NAVIGATING THE SHIT SHOW. My name is Peter Clayton. Thank you for tuning in.

Between COVID-19. Climate Change, Black Lives Matter, our political shit show, including the starring role of a fly in a political debate – yeah, that happened, a government in complete disarray with no leadership, no conscience, not integrity, no honesty – I feel like we’re all living in rubber rafts heading down a particularly perilous section of the Colorado River. And no one knows if we’re going to make it through this catastrophe alive. I heard that the supporters of this president are threatening to leave the country if he loses the election. Really? Good riddance, but where exactly do they think they’re going to go? Maybe Somalia? Rated the most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International in 2019. However, it’s in the Horn of Africa so I doubt those folks would want to go there.

To transition to something far more positive, I think that the group of influencers thought leaders, subject matter experts, innovators, and visionaries I’ve invited to participate in the WTF 2020 series can give all of us some inspiration, a renewed sense of purpose — or a least some actionable ideas and hope! Today, I’m delighted to welcome to TotalPicture Media Heather Bussing, attorney, writer, analyst, and a damn good photographer.


  • Heather, welcome. Are you and John still fleeing from the fires torching California?
  • As most of you watching or listening to this probably know, Heather is married to John Sumser, Chief Analyst at HRExaminer, podcaster, and all-around terrific human being. So Heather, tell us a little bit about your background and what you’re currently working on.
  • Let’s talk about employment law, which seems to me to have traditionally been on the side of the business, the company, corporation. Is that a correct assessment? and how has COVID-19 impacted employment law?
  • There are a lot of economists projecting that over 50% of the independent restaurants in New York City won’t survive the pandemic. And of course, in California, you’re not only dealing with COVID-19 but horrific fires. What is the prognosis for the San Francisco Bay area, and Napa Valley, which depends so heavily on tourism?
  • One of the reasons I wanted to talk with Heather is a ProPublica investigative report Titled “Meet the Customer Service Reps for Disney and Airbnb Who Have to Pay to Work with You”. Co-published by Planet Money. (I’ll put a link to the ProPublica article in the show notes. So there I was, on my exercise mat, groaning through some stretching exercises, listening to Planet Money and not believing what I’m hearing, but of course, it’s true. It involves the Work from Home Industry – and it is an industry – and how, as I said in the opening, unskilled workers are getting royally screwed. And I can’t think of a more insidious and effective manipulator than a company you probably never heard of called Arise Virtual Solutions. Heather, give us some background, will you?


ProPublica: Meet the Customer Service Reps for Disney and Airbnb Who Have to Pay to Talk to You 
WTF 2020 Interview with John Sumser: