Regional organizations discuss draft law affecting ride-sharing workers

Photo courtesy of Alexius Horatius

HYANNIS — A year after a California law was passed allowing ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Doordash to classify their workers as independent contractors, state lawmakers, interest groups and organizations are debating a similar bill pending in Massachusetts.

Proposition 22, which created an exemption overriding California laws requiring drivers of such organizations to be classified as employees, was at the center of a campaign that saw record sums of cash raised by ride-sharing companies for the support, eventually passing with a 59% vote.

At a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Driver Flexibility and Benefits Committee, several California drivers expressed support for the measure, citing flexibility as an important reason.

“Our definition of flexibility is completely different from those who think we should be constrained to an employee model,” said Lydia Olsen, an Uber driver from California, “we don’t want schedules, we don’t want fighting for shifts, we don’t want to be limited on how we work, or where we work, or when we work.

According to a survey of California carpool drivers, 88% thought Prop 22 had been good for them.

Others, however, have expressed concern about the adoption of similar measures in Massachusetts, citing concerns about the rights, legal protections and benefits of workers in the ride-sharing industry, with Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights and other organizations and labor groups expressing their opposition to the measure.

“Uber and Lyft’s ballot wording is a $100 million ploy to avoid paying taxes, avoid paying workers fairly, and allow Big Tech companies to evade the basic obligations of all other companies “said Beth Griffith, an Uber from Massachusetts. Driver and spokesperson for the Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights, in a statement in August.

Concerns have also been raised about the effect such exemptions could have on other industries, with similar tactics used recently at hotels and grocery stores in California, where supermarket chain Albertsons laid off hundreds of workers. employees to independent contractors after the passage of Prop 22.

In July 2020, Attorney General Maura Healey sued Uber and Lyft, alleging that app-based drivers are unlawfully denied benefits due to their classification as independent contractors.

Massachusetts citizens will vote whether or not to approve the initiative in November 2022.

By Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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