Uber, Lyft, and other tech companies are testing the language for potential mass voting questions on gig employees



A coalition that includes tech giants Uber and Lyft is testing the language for a potential Massachusetts election question and asking residents if they would support a measure that would classify ridesharing and delivery drivers as independent contractors and give them some – but not the full – offers – advantages that employees enjoy.

The poll speech received from the Globe offers a glimpse of how the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work could build a closely watched voting initiative for 2022, two years after the companies waged a similar and costly battle in California.

The group – which includes ridesharing giants as well as DoorDash, Instacart, and others – is facing an Aug. 4 deadline to file an initial round of signatures with Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, the first step in asking a question about next fall’s vote.

It’s about how hundreds of thousands of so-called gig economy workers should be treated. As independent contractors, drivers are not entitled to minimum wages, overtime pay, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and other worker protection measures that workers are entitled to.

Healey sued Uber and Lyft last year, alleging that the ride-sharing service providers were in breach of a. mistakenly identify as an independent contractor State Law that’s what defines you as an employee.

The poll, sent out via SMS this week, asked respondents if they would support a question that might “pop up” on the November 2022 vote that app-based delivery and ridesharing companies have some broadly defined benefits, including a form, must provide the minimum wage while ensuring that they are classified as independent contractors.

The survey also measures what types of arguments would work in a high-stakes campaign.

A poll warns that if the referendum fails – and Healey wins their lawsuit – ridesharing and delivery companies would “likely cut or eliminate operations in Massachusetts” instead of “being forced into a completely different business model just for the sake of it.” to operate “. this one state. “

The poll asked whether such a prospect would convince them to support the election question.

A copy of the poll does not explicitly identify the coalition as funding, but one person with knowledge of the poll confirmed to the Globe that the group was behind it.

Although no exact voting language has been published, supporters and opponents alike have prepared for a possible campaign. Two similarly named but opposing coalitions – each claiming support from app-based workers – have staked out sides on the issue, and the Uber-backed group is pushing at the same time legislation on Beacon Hill, who would refer to app-based drivers as independent contractors and create what is known as a portable performance account for some of them.

According to the proposal, a transport company would pay a contribution of 4 percent of the driver’s earnings from the previous three-month quarter into the account, which the employee could then use for health costs, a pension or for assistance, for example to cover loss of income due to an accident.

In a statement, the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work said it would continue to press for bill passage to stave off a potentially costly election campaign.

The California corporations’ successful push last fall that allowed them to continue treating drivers as independent contractors didn’t come cheap: the $ 200 million petition initiative was that most expensive in state history.

“We remain committed to a legislative solution for workers that expands opportunities, enhances equal opportunities, helps the economy and benefits communities across the Commonwealth, and look forward to working with lawmakers in the months ahead,” it said in a coalition statement.

A group of supporters, unions and others has already formed to fight a possible election campaign and work under the name of the coalition to protect workers’ rights. The poll is evidence of the company’s plans for the next election cycle in Massachusetts.

“These tactics make it clear that big tech companies are willing to spend $ 100 million to buy a new bill that will rob low-wage workers of their rights,” said Mike Firestone, who served as Healey’s chief of staff for nearly four years was and now at the top is the coalition for the protection of workers’ rights. “Huge tech companies shouldn’t have any special exemption from laws that apply to any other company in our state.”

Matt Stout can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.


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