Gig companies take worker classification fight to Massachusetts through ballot initiative – TechCrunch

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A coalition of app-based ride-hailing and on-demand supply firms together with Lyft, Uber, Doordash and Instacart have filed a petition for a poll initiative in Massachusetts that may maintain gig economic system staff labeled as impartial contractors because the trade takes a struggle it gained in California on the street.

The poll measure proposed by the Massachusetts Coalition for Impartial Work comes almost a yr after California voters authorized the same measure often called Proposition 22 that pitted labor rights advocates in opposition to gig economic system firms in a expensive multimillion battle.

Lyft, Uber and different members of the coalition, which additionally contains a number of native chambers of commerce within the state, stated Tuesday they need the poll query included within the November 2022 election. The query has to move a authorized overview and obtain sufficient signatures from voters for it to be included on the poll.

“Whereas our precedence is to discover a legislative answer in Massachusetts, this a part of our continued efforts to advocate what the overwhelming majority of drivers need — a versatile incomes alternative that our platform offers plus new advantages,” Lyft co-founder John Zimmer stated throughout Lyft’s earnings name Tuesday. ” Whereas we’re pursuing the poll possibility, we’re additionally carefully engaged with the Massachusetts State Legislature and are persevering with to work with them on a possible legislative answer.”

The coalition stated the proposed poll query would grant app-based ride-hail and supply staff new advantages similar to healthcare stipends whereas retaining them labeled as impartial contractors.

Among the many provisions that the coalition touted can be an earnings flooring equal to 120% of the Massachusetts minimal wage ($18 per hour in 2023 from app-based platforms, earlier than buyer suggestions) and healthcare stipends for drivers who work at the very least 15 hours per week. Drivers would nonetheless maintain all of their suggestions and be assured at the very least $0.26 per mile to cowl automobile maintenance and gasoline, based on the coalition.

Labor activists are already pushing again. The Coalition to Defend Employees’ Rights, a gaggle composed of a wide range of organizations together with the NAACP New England Space Convention, the Union of Minority Neighborhoods and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition, stated Tuesday the poll measure incorporates problematic language that can damage staff.

The group argued there are in depth loopholes that create a subminimum wage for app-based staff and that few qualify for healthcare. It additionally famous that the measure would take away anti-discrimination protections, eliminates staff’ compensation guidelines and permits firms to cheat the state unemployment system of a whole lot of hundreds of thousands.

Whereas Uber, Lyft and the broader coalition lobbies for both a poll measure or laws, it additionally faces a lawsuit filed final yr by the Massachusetts Legal professional Common Maura Healey who has requested the courtroom to rule that Uber and Lyft drivers are staff below Massachusetts Wage and Hour Legal guidelines.

The AG’s Workplace alleges in its grievance that Uber and Lyft are unable to satisfy a three-part take a look at below state legislation that may permit them to categorise drivers as impartial contractors. To qualify as an impartial contractor the employee have to be free from an organization’s course and management, carry out companies outdoors the standard course of the enterprise and does comparable work on their very own.

Uber has been signaling since final yr that it deliberate to push for legal guidelines just like the Proposition 22 measure. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stated in November 2020 throughout an earnings name with analysts that the corporate will “extra loudly advocate for legal guidelines like Prop 22.” He later added that it is going to be a precedence of the corporate “to work with governments throughout the U.S. and the world to make this a actuality.”

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