State Court Considers Ballot Proposals Impacting Rideshare Companies

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( – On Monday, May 6, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court looked at whether or not in November, voters will be casting their ballots on two proposals that could change the relationship between drivers and companies such as Lyft and Uber Technologies. One of the proposals is backed by labor while the other by the industry. 

The state’s court heard arguments in the labor-supported challenge to a ballot proposal by an industry-backed group which would call for voters to decide whether drivers are independent contractors instead of employees of the companies. As contractors, they would be entitled to receive some benefits. 

The court is also examining a challenge to the ballot measure that would have voters decide whether Lyft and Uber drivers should be allowed to unionize. The measure has the support of the Service Employees International Union’s Local 32BJ. 

Some research indicates that companies can save up to 30% by using contractors instead of employees. If the companies manage to win the Massachusetts ballot, then other states could be encouraged to implement measures like it. 

Back in 2019, the California grappled with whether to designate Uber and Lyft drivers as employees or contractors. According to an analysis, it was expected that these companies being forced to classify their workers as employees would raise costs significantly. Lyft even stated at the time that it would possibly need to “revise [its] pricing methodologies” to make up for the change. With that in mind, could such a change in Massachusetts ultimately lead to higher rideshare costs in the state?

Lyft, Uber, and other app-based delivery services apps such as DoorDash and Instacart have been pushing for the ballot proposal that would make their drivers be considered contractors under Massachusetts state law. Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts Drivers has also received funds from the four companies in support of its proposal, which would put an earnings floor equal to 120 percent of the minimum wage in the state for app-based drivers. In 2023, this would have amounted to $18 an hour excluding tips. 

Drivers would also be entitled to paid sick leave, healthcare stipends, and occupational accident insurance under this new proposal. However, in 2022, the same court had blocked an industry-backed ballot measure with similar provisions from moving forward. 

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