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Employee or contractor? Mass. lawmakers to weigh in on app-based work debate

Uber and Lyft stickers are pictured inside a ride-hailing vehicle outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston on Nov. 14, 2019. (Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Uber and Lyft stickers are pictured inside a ride-hailing vehicle outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston on Nov. 14, 2019. (Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

A committee on Beacon Hill will consider on Wednesday a controversial proposal to classify ride-hail and delivery drivers in Massachusetts as independent contractors, rather than employees.

The proposal was filed as a ballot initiative and will likely end up before voters this November unless the Legislature acts on it before May 4.

Supporters argue that it would protect drivers' flexibility, guarantee a minimum hourly wage and add new benefits, like health care premium reimbursements for some drivers.

But opponents say it could permanently strip drivers of rights provided to employees under existing state law, including sick time, overtime pay and other benefits.

The push to reclassify workers is backed by some of the titans of app-based work, including Lyft, Uber, DoorDash and Instacart. A $13 million donation from Lyft last December broke the state's record for the largest ever one-time political campaign contribution.

A similar measure, known as Prop 22, passed in California in 2020.

Wednesday's hearing starts at 1 p.m. and will be livestreamed here.

If the Legislature doesn’t act on the proposal before the May deadline, petitioners will need to collect over 13,000 additional signatures before July to land on the 2022 ballot.

This article was originally published on March 29, 2022.

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Laney Ruckstuhl Twitter Associate Digital Producer
Laney Ruckstuhl is an associate digital producer.

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