Skip to content

Little sympathy for app-based tech companies at ballot question hearing

People in this story

CommonWealth Beacon, March 2024

If ride-hailing and delivery companies were hoping for a warm or even lukewarm reception from lawmakers considering a ballot effort to classify app-based drivers as independent contractors, they badly misjudged. In a hearing that stretched past six hours, the reception was more like a cold shower as dozens of lawyers, academics, spokespeople, union leaders, and drivers made their case before the special legislative committee tasked with considering the full slate of 2024 ballot measures. Two ballot campaigns underway would fundamentally redefine the relationship between gig-work drivers, the companies that manage them, and the state.

“They are workers,” committee co-chair Sen. Cindy Friedman of Arlington told a panel of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart representatives on Tuesday. The companies have “set up this sort of narrative,” she said, that argues that without independent contractor status “you don’t have any flexibility. And you know, and I know, that that is specious at best. And I don’t trust you, because you’re big corporations. You’re in it to make money, which is fine, not a problem. But I would argue that what has happened over the last several months is because there’s so much scrutiny over these companies.”

The Big Tech-backed ballot campaign is pushing five different versions of a measure that would classify drivers with transportation network companies, often called TNCs, as independent contractors and in some cases guarantee a set of benefits. Proponents say they only intend to send one question to the ballot. Another measure put forward by 32BJ SEIU and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) would give the drivers the right to form unions and collectively bargain.

Continue reading at the CommonWealth Beacon.

More Stories

Anti-abortion activists.

Republicans’ abortion platform is more “wink and a nod” than clear policy

Bioreactors that host algae.

To help with climate change, carbon capture will have to evolve

Northeastern logo

Pelosi’s new effort to convince Biden to go

All Stories