workers rights

Warren to Join Opposition to Potential App-Based Driver Ballot Question in Allston

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will join workers advocates in Allston Wednesday morning to call on big tech companies, like Uber and Lyft, to retract a ballot initiative that would keep ride-share drivers as designated contractors, rather than full-time employees.

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U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren plans to wade into the intensifying fight over app-based driver classification and benefits in Massachusetts by aligning herself with the groups fighting an industry-backed ballot question, the opposition campaign announced Tuesday.

The Coalition to Protect Workers' Rights, a group of labor and civil rights organizations working to sink the potential ballot question, said it will host an event with Warren on Wednesday, at which she will endorse the group and call on initiative petition backers to withdraw their proposal.

Organizers said Warren will unveil her endorsement at 10 a.m. at the Everett Street Stop and Shop in Allston, where she will be joined by Stop and Shop workers in the UFCW 1445 union, community advocates, app-based drivers and others.

The ballot question would enshrine in state law that drivers on app-based rideshare and delivery platforms are independent contractors rather than employees while offering them some access to benefits such as a minimum pay guarantee and paid sick leave.

Supporters argue that the ballot question would increase benefits for drivers while guaranteeing they have the "flexibility" in their status and hours that many workers support. Four industry power players -- Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart -- are funding the campaign in support of the initiative petition.

Warren, one of the most well-known and vocally progressive lawmakers in the country, will join a growing debate that appears primed to erupt into a bruising and expensive campaign fight if supporters clear remaining hurdles to putting the question before voters in November 2022.

Attorney General Maura Healey sued Uber and Lyft last summer, before the initiative petition took shape, alleging that the companies violate existing state wage and hour laws by treating drivers as contractors rather than employees.

State House News Service
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