Warning that rideshare and delivery workers are toiling under low pay and lack workplace protections afforded to others, labor activists on Tuesday urged lawmakers to pass a bill extending collective bargaining rights to tens of thousands of app-based drivers.
Legislation on the Labor Committee hearing (H. 1953 / S. 1224) docket Tuesday would require state government to create an industry council for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft and workforce representatives to negotiate over wages, accident coverage, driver benefits, and anti-discrimination rights.
In a rally outside the State House ahead of the hearing, drivers and union leaders said the bargaining bill would improve working conditions and prevent the "exploitation" of drivers by app-based ride and delivery platforms.
"If this is not passed, drivers will wake up tomorrow to the same status quo, which is app companies will continue to take up to 60% of your fares, drivers will continue to make way below minimum wage, and that's unacceptable," said Aziz Bah, organizing director for the Independent Drivers Guild. "These workers need protection and that's the protection they deserve, because they made these app companies billions and billions of dollars and while the companies are getting richer, the workers are getting poorer."
Some drivers are in the midst of organizing in Massachusetts amid an increasingly contentious fight over a potential 2022 ballot question that would affect driver pay and benefits. The Massachusetts Independent Drivers Guild launched this summer with support from the International Association of Machinists union.
That initiative petition, backed by major app-based companies, would declare that drivers are independent contractors and not employees while offering them some benefits such as paid sick leave and limited access to health insurance stipends.