New Coalition Aims to Protect Rights of Rideshare Workers in Mass. But Not All Drivers Agree

The new Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights will gather Tuesday outside the Massachusetts State House.

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Munim Khan has been driving for Uber and Lyft for 10 years.

“Right now we don’t have no benefits,” said Khan of West Roxbury. “If I get injured or killed, there’s no protections for me, there is no workers’ rights, there is no sick pay.”

Khan is part of the new Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, which will launch Tuesday with a press conference outside the Massachusetts State House.

The coalition says gig companies are working on a potential ballot question for 2022 that would be harmful to app-based drivers in Massachusetts.

“These companies have shown that their agenda is to spend tens or even a hundred million dollars to carve out or exclude workers from rights and protections,” said Mike Firestone, the coalition’s director.

One of the critical issues: whether drivers should be considered employees and entitled to key benefits or remain independent contractors.

“These companies want to bake into our law the fiction that you can have hundreds of thousands of workers but somehow no employees because the work is done over an app,” said Firestone.

But not every driver is on board.

“I think the biggest benefit behind doing this kind of work is that I’m my own boss,” said Instacart driver Travis Jones of East Longmeadow. “I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck telling me like hey I need you in at 9 today.”

Jones is a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, a rival group supported by the gig industry, which is pushing for drivers to remain independent contractors.

These drivers say they prefer the flexibility of setting their own work hours as well as locations where they drive.

“I’m a single father of two so freedom is everything to me,” said gig driver Matthew Rose of Wareham. “If we become employees we lose our freedom.”

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