Uber drivers get signatures on Massachusetts ballot on independent contractors

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Uber drivers get signatures on Massachusetts ballot on independent contractors

BOSTON Reuters - Backers of a measure that asks Massachusetts voters to treat drivers for app-based companies like Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc as independent contractors rather than employees said on Tuesday they had gathered enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

Nearly 130,000 signatures have been submitted to city and city clerks for each version of a ballot question supported by a coalition of app-based service providers in the fight over gig workers' legal rights.

In August, the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, whose members include Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Inc. and Instacart Inc., proposed a proposal to declare their drivers independent contractors, but not their employees.

The signatures were gathered by Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts Drivers, a committee associated with the group. The ballot question's two versions are similar, though one lacks a safety training requirement in case opponents challenge it.

Signatures for 2022 ballot questions must be submitted by Wednesday for certification. At least 80,239 certified signatures must be delivered to the secretary of state by December 1.

The proposal would set an earnings floor equal to 120% of the Massachusetts minimum wage for ride-share and delivery drivers, or $18 an hour in 2023, before tips. The drivers would be guaranteed at least 26 cents per mile to cover vehicle upkeep and gas.

Ride-share and delivery network companies would have to pay healthcare stipends if drivers work at least 15 hours per week. Drivers could earn money for sick time and family and medical leave.

The proposal follows a similar measure in California, where the companies persuade state voters to solidify ride-hail and food delivery workers' status as independent contractors with some benefits.

A California judge ruled on Aug. 23 that the measure, Proposition 22, was in violation of the constitution of the state.