Council opposes vote on rideshare app


District 6 Councilwoman Kendra Lara opposes a ballot question that would classify construction workers as contractors regardless of hours worked. COURTESY PHOTO

Last Wednesday, the Boston City Council passed a resolution urging Massachusetts residents to oppose a statewide ballot measure that would make app-based drivers for companies like Uber, Lyft and Doordash of independent contractors.

The ballot issue, which will appear before voters this fall, frames the issue as one of maintaining the flexibility that many drivers have cited as their attraction to the service. The measure, along with an internal bill, would add some provisions for benefits such as health care allowances, a guaranteed minimum wage of $18 an hour and additional accident insurance.

However, opponents say the measure actually exposes drivers to liability risk in the event of an accident in excess of the maximum coverage provided by companies, while denying them other social benefits such as insurance and unemployment. .

District 6 Councilwoman Kendra Lara, who moved the resolution opposing the ballot measure, made it a point on Wednesday to highlight vulnerable communities she said tech giants are taking advantage of to skimp on on employee benefits.

“So when companies like Uber, Lyft and Doordash offer a misleading voting question denying employees vital workplace protections, we see it as a direct attack on women, especially workers of color,” a Lara said at a rally outside City Hall ahead of the council. Meet.

Lara spoke about the increase in the number of female drivers at Uber, which she says grew by 80% in the last year, while UberEats saw its number of female drivers double between April 2020 and January 2022. Additionally, At food delivery service Instacart, Lara said, some 600,000 business drivers are women.

She and other advisers have made it clear that they don’t believe in the benefits that app-based companies claim to offer.

“Essentially they deny any hope for a workplace where people feel respected, protected and well paid,” Lara said.

To gain support for the measure, the companies invested nearly $17 million in an advertising campaign via TV ads promoted by groups such as Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts Drivers, which received nearly $14 million. from Lyft alone. The campaign casts a ‘no’ vote on the measure as a signature on creating fixed schedules and flat rates for drivers – a scenario that would occur if drivers were considered employees.

After testimony emerged from California claiming wages were cut and benefits were not discounted after a similar measure was passed in 2020, drivSellers called the ads misleading.

“This ballot question indicates that drivers will retain their flexibility, receive benefits and be paid 100% of minimum wage. These are more lies,” said Lisa Call, a member of the Massachusetts Independent Drivers Guild.

Additionally, Boston city councilors also called the companies’ rhetoric false.

“We know that the current advertising campaign challenges the idea that if we give people these rights, if we give them the dignity, the respect that they deserve and that they expect as workers, we are harming them. removing their flexibility,” Councilor Riccardo Arroyo said Wednesday. “I just want to make it clear that there’s nothing stopping any of these places from offering flex hours or flexible working hours.”

Arroyo acknowledged that the measure “ensures that they pay into Social Security, pay into unemployment, provide civil rights and sexual harassment protections. Treat their workers with respect and the dignity they deserve.

Ahead of the council meeting, elected officials from the area, including Chelsea Councilman Norieliz DeJesus, Everett City Councilwoman Stephanie Martins, Malden City Councilwoman Amanda Linehan and Newton City Councilwoman Emily Norton joined Lara to condemn the proposal and urge their constituents to oppose the measure.

“Our families are being negatively impacted, and the narrative used to support H. 1234 and the 2022 state ballot initiative is misleading,” DeJesus said. “Our families must be recognized as employees, with all the benefits.”

The debate is expected to continue in the coming months as Democratic lawmakers continue to push back against powerful tech companies and drivers battle rising inflation and uncertainty.

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