Vote in Massachusetts would give Uber and Lyft drivers the precise to form a union


BOSTON (AP) — Ride-share drivers in Massachusetts are pushing a ballot query that, if passed, could give them union rights.

The move comes despite a pioneering settlement Last month, Uber and Lyft drivers in Massachusetts were guaranteed to earn a minimum wage of $32.50 an hour.

Supporters of the measure last week submitted the ultimate batch of signatures needed to put it on the November ballot.

April Verritt, president of the Service Employees International Union, said the tens of hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers who work in Massachusetts are entitled to the collective bargaining advantages of unions.

“This would be the first union formation of its kind in the country,” she said. The group is working on an analogous project in California.

Attorney General Andrea Campbell, who secured the settlement – ​​which included an “unprecedented package of minimum wage, benefits and protections” – also supports the ballot query.

“It is a strong foundation on which we can and should build,” said Democrat Campbell of the agreement.

Verritt said the country's labor laws are usually not designed to accommodate gig staff. In Massachusetts, the ballot query would bring about some change if voters support the problem – and drivers ultimately form a union.

“We fundamentally believe that workers are workers,” she said. “All workers have a right to a union, an opportunity to join with their colleagues and have a say in their livelihood.”

Yolanda Rodriguez has been a driver for Lyft for about six years and believes that union rights would profit her and other drivers.

The 33-year-old mother of three who lives in Malden, just outside Boston, said she leaves around 3 a.m. most days and lots of of her trips involve driving people to Logan International Airport.

Rodriguez said her account was canceled a couple of 12 months ago when she was pregnant. She said it took five months to get it restored and for her to have the ability to generate income again.

“I don't want this to happen to other women or men, because often children are behind the rejections,” she said through an interpreter. “If I had a union, I could turn to them and work with them.”

As a part of a policy Lyft announced earlier this 12 months, the corporate said its goal is to make drivers feel supported and revered when their account is temporarily suspended during an investigation, including a streamlined button within the app that permits drivers to appeal deactivation decisions.

But not everyone thinks this query goes far enough – in the event that they support it in any respect.

Henry De Groot, 28, of Boston, worked part-time as a driver for each firms for five years, but said the voting issue was not a good deal.

“I am one hundred percent for the unions and one hundred percent against the ballot question,” he said.

De Groot said the problem doesn’t result in a democratic system during which all drivers have rights. He said the initiative doesn’t contain any rights beyond basic collective bargaining, including details on how contributions are used.

“You can't have a regular union and not give workers voting rights,” he said. “The drivers have no control over the leadership. It's about the basic democratic rights that other unions have. It's a top-down organization.”

Kelly Cobb-Lemire, an organizer with Massachusetts Drivers United, a corporation she describes as a grassroots campaign led by drivers, said other app-based staff, including delivery drivers, were unnoticed of the vote.

“We are fighting for both drivers and delivery workers to have the right to form a union and be classified as employees,” she said. “We support democratic collective bargaining where every driver has a voice.”

She said her group is as a substitute pushing for lawmakers to pass a bill that might give all app employees full labor rights and open up the chance for all to unionize. She said the bill would also require drivers and delivery staff to be paid a minimum of Massachusetts' minimum wage for all hours worked.

The ballot query, if passed, would define “active drivers” as those that have accomplished greater than the common variety of trips within the previous six months.

Once a union contracts 5% of the lively drivers in a bargaining unit, it receives an inventory of all eligible employees and might prevent recognition of every other union without an election.

If a union then receives 25% of the eligible voters in a bargaining unit, it becomes the certified bargaining representative unless one other union or a “non-union” group comes forward inside the following seven days with the signatures of a minimum of 25% of the eligible voters, at which point an election might be held.

Proponents of the problem had prepared to oppose a possible series of industry-backed ballot questions geared toward classifying drivers as independent contractors.

But that threat evaporated after the agreement was reached. The firms were prohibited from supporting all five proposed versions of their ballot query – meaning they might not be put to a vote.

In a press release after the settlement was announced, Lyft said the settlement resolved a legal dispute that had recently been litigated in court and eliminated the necessity for the referendum campaign in November of this 12 months.

Uber also released a press release on the time calling the agreement “an example of what independent, flexible and dignified work should look like in the 21st century.”

Under the agreement, drivers are entitled to 1 hour of sick pay for each 30 hours worked, as much as a maximum of 40 hours per 12 months.

The two firms must also pay a complete of $175 million to the state to resolve allegations that they violated Massachusetts wage and hour laws. Much of that cash might be paid out to current and former drivers.

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