Trying to avoid a repeat of gig firms’ victory in California final November, Massachusetts employees, group organizers, labor and civil-rights teams on Tuesday launched an effort to fight an anticipated poll measure over employee classification.
The Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights expects Uber Technologies Inc.
and different gig firms to proceed their marketing campaign to deal with their employees as impartial contractors as a substitute of workers in Massachusetts, which has a few of the hardest labor legal guidelines within the nation.
The firms “want to undermine our state’s longstanding civil rights and worker-rights laws,” stated Mike Firestone, director of the brand new labor-backed coalition, at a information convention. “We know that the only way to combat that kind of money is to organize early.”
The firms’ submitting deadline to get a measure on the poll in Massachusetts — the place Uber and Lyft are going through a lawsuit from the state lawyer common over misclassification of their drivers — is Aug. 4, Firestone stated. He added that he expects the businesses to spend greater than $100 million on such a marketing campaign.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor lawyer who has been suing gig firms for the previous decade, stated on the information convention: “We believe Massachusetts will be the next ground zero in the worker battle. They’re going to try to do here what they did in California, which is to buy themselves a law.”
Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart spent a record-breaking $200 million-plus to put Proposition 22 on the poll in California final yr. After 58% of the state’s voters permitted the measure, the businesses stated they might search to increase it elsewhere. Massachusetts gig employees, labor teams, civil rights and environmental justice teams have banded collectively to attempt to maintain that from occurring of their state, partly by drawing from classes realized in California.
What occurred in California
Drivers, California lawmakers and labor advocates say Proposition 22, which promised assured earnings of 120% of the minimal wage, health-care stipends and another advantages, has largely failed to ship.
“Part of what they did in California was to lie, to misrepresent the reality of what the bill was,” stated Veena Dubal, a labor professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, on the information convention. For instance, she famous that drivers usually are not paid for the time between rides.
In addition, a latest survey commissioned by SEIU 721 in Los Angeles discovered that almost all drivers are discovering they’re ineligible for the health-care stipends as a result of they’re low revenue and qualify for medical health insurance by way of the state. In response, a coalition representing the businesses has stated “thousands of drivers” have began receiving health-care stipends since Proposition 22 handed.
Proposition 22 was the gig firms’ profitable effort to exempt themselves from a California legislation that may have required them to deal with their drivers as workers. That legislation was modeled after an analogous Massachusetts legislation, which makes use of the “ABC test” to decide when employees could be thought of an impartial contractor: after they management their work; when their duties fall exterior of the standard scope of an organization’s enterprise; and in the event that they independently try this work.
Massachusetts polls thus far
The Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, whose members embody the gig firms plus chambers of commerce and tech trade teams, stated Tuesday that surveys it commissioned present that 64% of drivers within the state need to stay impartial contractors, and that seven in 10 voters assist laws that may classify drivers as impartial contractors whereas giving them advantages.
But the newly shaped Massachusetts employee coalition launched contradictory outcomes of a survey it commissioned. It confirmed that lower than one-third of the state’s voters assist the gig company-backed invoice.
“You’re going to get these conflicting polls,” Liss-Riordan stated. “It all depends on how you ask the question. These gig companies are not being straight. You can have flexibility and you can have protections under the law.”
Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman, echoing a few of the feedback by Liss-Riordan and Dubal, stated the upcoming battle in Massachusetts is extra than simply about ride-hailing drivers and these presently categorized as gig employees. They stated grocery supply drivers, resort and restaurant employees have misplaced their union jobs because the passage of Proposition 22 in California.
“The [companies] come in here with their high tech, high-falutin’ attitudes and think they can change Massachusetts,” Tolman stated. “We’re not going to allow it.”
Dubal stated, “This is about protecting wages and livelihoods of service workers across the country.”
Dubal additionally stated the fight “is a civil-rights issue, not just a labor-rights issue.”
During their marketing campaign in California, the gig firms “used the facade of racial benevolence to say this was going to somehow benefit people of color,” she stated. “We’ve already seen in the aftermath that wages have gone down and consumer prices have gone up.”
Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston NAACP, additionally spoke on the information convention. She acknowledged the “opportunity in the gig economy” however added that “it is critically important that, from a civil-rights standpoint, we stand with labor on this particular issue.”
William Gould, professor emeritus at Stanford Law School and a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, informed MarketWatch that the Massachusetts employee coalition ought to watch which organizations could have obtained monetary assist from gig firms. “One thing we didn’t understand here [in California] was the extent to which some civil-rights groups were apparently influenced to either remain silent or support the companies,” he stated.
A latest report from The Markup detailed Uber and Lyft’s donations to organizations that work with communities of shade. Some of these organizations positioned op-eds extolling the virtues of gig work in minority newspapers.
Beth Griffith, a driver and chair of the Boston Independent Drivers Guild, stated on the information convention that upwards of 70% of Massachusetts’ 220,000 gig employees are individuals of shade and immigrants.
“We may not have the biggest budget but we have the biggest heart,” Griffith stated of the fight the brand new coalition has launched, which can embody educating gig employees and the general public concerning the employee protections which can be at stake. “And we have the most to lose.”