As app-based rideshare and delivery drivers voice their support for legislation, opponents launch ridiculous attacks that fold under mildest scrutiny
CONTACT: Conor Yunits, 857-276-8479, firstname.lastname@example.org
BOSTON, MA – October 6, 2021 – While app-based rideshare and delivery drivers testified during today’s Joint Committee on Financial Services hearing to voice their support for H.1234, which would deliver historic new benefits while maintaining driver flexibility, opponents of the measure continued to spread falsehoods.
The opposition’s entire argument is based on false premises and willful misrepresentation of what the vast majority of rideshare and delivery workers truly want. The legislation will not lead to loss of rights: it will provide new, groundbreaking rights to drivers.
The legislation is the first step in giving drivers benefits they have previously never had through rideshare and delivery platforms.
The legislation represents, in fact, a huge and immediate expansion of benefits and protections for drivers.
Below is a line-by-line comparison of the fictional claims made by opponents and the truth of what the proposed legislation contains:
MASSACHUSETTS RIDESHARE & DELIVERY LEGISLATION: MYTHS vs. FACTS
Myth: “Perpetuates ‘false choice’ on flexibility. While Big Tech expands flexibility for favored, high-status employees, the initiative falsely claims that drivers can only maintain scheduling flexibility by surrendering all other worker rights.”
Fact: Schedule flexibility and flexibility to decide whether or when to work at all are not the same. Right now, app-based workers can choose to work when they want, where they want and for however long they want. They can choose whether to accept a job or not. They enjoy unlimited upward earning potential and can decide to take time off whenever they want, for however long they want, without needing to ever ask a “boss.”
By contrast, coffee baristas or grocery store cashiers don’t get to choose the location they work at or how long their shifts are, nor are they in control of which orders they want to make. A Starbucks barista cannot walk across the street in the middle of her shift and start pouring cups at Dunkin Donuts. These employees instead earn a flat wage and have to get permission to take time off, and risk negative consequences if they take too much time off. This is what app-based workers would face if they were forced into traditional employment arrangements.
Myth: The companies would get away with paying sub-minimum wage because they only pay drivers for “engaged time.”
Fact: Paying for engaged time is what allows drivers to have the flexibility they want and, for many, need. It allows them to use multiple apps at one time (doing a job on one app while waiting for a job on another one). Drivers also have the option to pick and choose what rides or deliveries they take. Currently, drivers are paid when they are performing a service. Otherwise drivers could log on to multiple apps and earn multiple wages for the same time, without actually giving any rides or making any deliveries. That wouldn’t make sense in any industry.
Myth: “The legislation…would remove app-based workers from legal protections against workplace injuries.”
Fact: False. The legislation specifically provides occupational accident insurance for drivers. This insurance covers injuries suffered whenever the driver is online using an app-based platform. The coverage requirements would mirror those for workers’ compensation under Massachusetts law.
Myth: According to a study from the UC Berkeley Labor Study, under the proposed ballot measure drivers would be paid just $4.82 per hour.
Fact: The same group’s earlier report on California’s Prop 22, was debunked when it was released back in 2019. Like in California, opponents of the Massachusetts legislation, H.1234, which would protect driver independence and flexibility while creating historic new benefits, have continued to push false and misleading information about the legislation that are not only at odds with the facts, but don’t stand up to scrutiny when compared with the success of Prop 22 in California. In fact, 75% of California Drivers Say Prop 22 “increased my pay.”
The questionable statistics, pushed by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, are far from an independent look at rideshare data. According to CalMatters, “The Legislature created the UC labor center, supported by taxpayer dollars, at the behest of union leaders to supply studies and data promoting union membership.” Report author Michael Reich has spoken at labor rallies and has had his objectivity called into question because of his close ties to organized labor.
“They already tried this misleading propaganda in California and it was rightly dismissed by drivers and voters,” said Lydia Olson, who drives with Uber in California. “The best thing about rideshare driving is you can start and stop anytime you want. Who would keep driving if it didn’t make financial sense for them? The vast majority of drivers take steps to maximize their income like understanding when and where to drive, using multiple apps to choose the best jobs, putting themselves in places to get better rides and much more. This ‘study’ is nonsense from a special interest thinktank. I hope that Massachusetts voters will support what drivers REALLY want, which is the flexibility to earn an income in a way that makes sense for us, without interference from those who do not understand our industry and are seeking to destroy it and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of us who rely on it.”
Myth: The legislation removes antidiscrimination protections for app-based workers, exempting Big Tech companies from the robust protections of Massachusetts Civil Rights Act.
Fact: The legislation creates new legal protection from discrimination, prohibiting companies from discriminating on the basis of protected characteristics identified in Massachusetts employment law.
Myth: “Companies can continue arbitrary, unfair, discriminatory deactivations.”
Fact: Companies are expressly prohibited under H. 1234 from discriminating against app-based drivers based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected class in contracting or deactivation.
Myth: “Allows companies to cheat the state unemployment system of hundreds of millions… allows gig giants to free-ride on a system paid for by law-abiding Massachusetts businesses.”
Fact: Extending unemployment benefits to all workers, such as freelancers and gig workers, is not as simple as classifying them as employees for the purposes of unemployment insurance. State unemployment systems and criteria weren’t designed to meet the needs of a workforce that works entirely on demand, at the workers’ discretion, and is not fired or laid off.
The opposition glosses over these nuances. It would be challenging or impossible to identify which drivers are entitled to UI benefits. In an open marketplace like app-based work, where anyone with appropriate equipment and the ability to pass a background check can access work, an individual can only lose access to the earnings opportunity when they are deactivated. For gig workers, in the vast majority of cases, individuals are only deactivated when they have violated a platform’s community guidelines, e.g. committed fraud, a safety violation — activities that would generally preclude a worker from subsequently receiving UI benefits.
Myth: “No Social Security contributions from Uber/Big Tech. Gig giants seek special exemption from paying into Social Security. Workers denied basic dignity in retirement.”
Fact: The legislation provides drivers with funds to cover their needs, without designating when in their life they receive them, the way Social Security does. Moreover, social security is a federal issue. Neither the proposed legislation nor any other state law would impact this issue.
App-based rideshare and delivery workers and their partners in the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work are also pursuing a ballot initiative that would add benefits and protections while maintaining flexibility.
H.1234 is supported by a fast-growing coalition of drivers and allies in the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work. Learn more about the coalition at: http://www.independentmass.org/