The Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work — a coalition of gig economy companies including Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and DoorDash Inc. — filed on Aug. 4 a ballot initiative proposal that would grant new benefits for app-based rideshare and delivery drivers in the commonwealth but allow them to maintain their status as independent contractors.
The proposal, Massachusetts App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative (2022), looks to replicate California’s Proposition 22, which voters approved last November. Proposition 22 was put forward by the industry in response to California’s AB 5 law. Prior to Proposition 22’s passage, Uber and Lyft had been under court order to reclassify its drivers as employees.
“Without the ballot measure or a legislative solution, the future of app-based rideshare and delivery could be in jeopardy,” the coalition stated in its announcement of the Massachusetts initiative last week. “A pending lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General is attempting to force app-based drivers into becoming employees, an outcome that drivers have overwhelmingly rejected.”
But opponents say the proposal amounts to a ploy by the companies to avoid paying taxes and contains loopholes that would create a subminimum wage for drivers, Reuters reported. “This is exploitation and Uber, Lyft and the gig economy’s way of trying to create a sub-class of workers,” said Beth Griffith, an Uber driver and chair of the Boston Independent Drivers Guild.
If voters approve the Massachusetts ballot measure, rideshare and delivery network companies will be required to pay healthcare stipends for drivers who work at least 15 hours per week, including full stipends equal to 100% of the average employer contribution toward a Health fileConnector plan premium for those who work an average of 25 hours or more per week, according to the MCIW. Rideshare and delivery drivers would also earn paid sick time and paid family and medical leave, and be provided with on-the-job injury protection.
Included in the ballot measure are provisions that establish an earnings floor equal to 120% of the Massachusetts minimum wage for app-based rideshare and delivery drivers — which will be $18 per hour in 2023 from app-based platforms, before customer tips — but with unlimited upward earning potential. Drivers would continue to keep 100% of their tips. They would also be guaranteed at least $0.26 per mile to cover vehicle upkeep and gas.