On February 1, 2021 the Independent Drivers Guild-backed bill, SD 473, was introduced into the Massachusetts State Senate. This legislation, supported by labor unions and rideshare drivers, would establish an industry council for all Transportation Network Company drivers to negotiate for better working conditions and greater pay.
This legislation would encompass all rideshare drivers in the state overseen by the Massachusetts Transportation Network Company (TNC) Division of the Department of Public Utilities. It encompasses Uber and Lyft rideshare drivers, as well as drivers for app-based delivery services such as InstaCart and Doordash.
While lawmakers around the country debate whether to classify rideshare drivers as employees, this bill seeks to give drivers a forum to negotiate for better pay and benefits regardless of their employment classification.
Rideshare drivers in Massachusetts lack basic labor rights. Their current status excludes them from minimum wage and paid sick leave laws. SD 473, seeks to “enable more stable and sustainable working conditions and better ensure that drivers can perform their services in a safe, reliable, stable, cost-effective, and economically viable manner, and thereby promote the welfare of the people who rely on safe and reliable transportation and delivery services to meet their needs.”
The bill’s provisions would allow drivers a forum to negotiate for benefits including but not limited to:
- Occupational accident coverage or other insurance coverage for drivers
- Written affirmation of anti-discrimination rights provided to drivers
- Benefits for drivers which may include health, retirement, and other benefits
- Wage regulations that provide a minimum wage not lower than the existing state minimum when wait times and expenses are considered
- Other issues, including minimum work hours, trainings and working conditions
In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that union workers earned roughly $1,095 per week, while nonunion workers earned closer to $892, representing a 19% benefit for those with collective bargaining power8
. SD 473 would not change rideshare workers’ classification status as independent contractors. Rather, it would create a process by which to negotiate to raise wages and improve benefits.