Concert economy companies want Mass voters to exempt workers


A coalition of gig economy companies that includes Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart said Wednesday that it has submitted a voting proposal in Massachusetts that could create a new working class in the community. If the coalition is successful, Massachusetts voters will decide next year whether concert workers should be considered independent contractors.

The employment classification of concert workers has been the subject of legal battles in many states. Labor activists argue that companies like Uber do not pay their employees fair wages, leaving them short in expenses, health care and unemployment benefits. Companies say their employees have too much flexibility to be considered employees. Last year, Massachusetts sues Uber and Lyftclaiming that they misclassified drivers as independent contractors. That lawsuit is ongoing.

The group of gig companies, called the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, is proposing to exempt gig workers from being classified as employees, but offers them some limited benefits, including a minimum of $18 per hour spent transporting a rider or delivering food.

“This is the best of both worlds,” DoorDash courier Pam Bennett said in a statement provided by the coalition. “This measure will help every driver by maintaining our ability to work when and how we want, and also give us access to brand new benefits that will really help us.”

The ballot proposal mirrors an initiative that companies proposed in California last year. The companies poured $200 million into the California voting initiative, making it the most expensive effort in the state’s history, and ultimately prevailed in exempting their employees from a California law that would effectively classify them as employees.

“They’re going to try to get this ballot by tricking the public into thinking it’s somehow in the interests of the workers,” said Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor attorney who represents temporary workers in Massachusetts. “It will relieve them of their liability under Massachusetts law and replace these bogus benefits.”

The Massachusetts effort comes as Uber and other companies that rely on gig workers face increasing scrutiny from the Biden administration. which one is before this year Trump-era rule back that would probably classify gig workers as independent contractors.


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