Gig economy companies want Mass. voters to exempt workers from employee status.
A coalition of gig economy companies that includes Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart said on Wednesday it had filed a ballot proposal in Massachusetts that could create a new class of workers in the Commonwealth. If the coalition is successful, voters in Massachusetts will decide next year whether concert workers should be considered independent contractors.
The employment classification of concert workers has been the subject of legal battles in several states. Union activists argue that companies like Uber fail to pay their workers fair wages and deprive them of their expenses, health care and unemployment benefits. Companies claim that their workers have too much flexibility to be considered employees. Last year, Massachusetts sued Uber and Lyft, claiming they misclassified drivers as independent contractors. This litigation is ongoing.
The group of concert companies, called the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, is proposing to exempt concert workers from being classified as employees, but to offer them limited benefits, including a minimum wage of $ 18 per hour spent on transportation. ‘a rider or the delivery of food.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” said Pam Bennett, a DoorDash courier, in a statement provided by the coalition. “This measure will help every driver by preserving our ability to work when and how we want, and will also give us access to whole new benefits that will really help us. “
The ballot proposal reflects an initiative that companies proposed last year in California. The companies poured $ 200 million into the California voting initiative, making it the costliest effort in state history, and ultimately prevailed by exempting their workers from a California law that would have effectively classified them as employees.
“They are going to try to get this voting measure by fooling the public into believing that it is somehow in the best interests of the workers,” said Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor lawyer who represents workers at the workers. concerts in Massachusetts. “It will take away their responsibilities under Massachusetts law and replace these bogus benefits.”
The effort in Massachusetts comes as Uber and other businesses that depend on concert workers come under increased scrutiny from the Biden administration, who earlier this year overturned a Trump-era rule that would likely have classified concert workers as independent contractors.
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