A Voice on the Job. A Movement against Poverty.

UBER and Lyft drivers to Massachusetts lawmakers:

We need collective bargaining rights and a union NOW.

On election day, Massachusetts drivers urge legislators to vote in favor of rules that would give drivers collective bargaining rights and clear pathway to unionizing

For September 14, 2021
Contact: MassachusettsIDG@gmail.com
BOSTON, MA — Thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers facing poverty pay and adverse working conditions would benefit from a new law being heard at the Massachusetts State House on election day, this Tuesday, September 14. Those drivers plan to hold a speakout on the State House steps at 9:00 A.M. EST on Tuesday morning, in hopes that as voters head to the polls, lawmakers will also see fit to vote in favor of their ability to escape poverty wages by enacting a law that would make it easier for rideshare workers to collectively bargain and to form a union.
WHO: Rideshare drivers, elected officials, labor organizers, supporters
WHAT: Speakout to support collective bargaining and union rights for rideshare drivers
WHEN: Tuesday, September 14, 9:00 A.M. EST
WHERE: Massachusetts State House steps, 24 Beacon Street Boston, MA
The law (S.1224) would for the first time ever give tens of thousands of rideshare drivers in Massachusetts the right to collective bargaining on an industry-wide basis, making it easier for those workers to escape poverty, and to provide for their families.
Sponsored by State Senators Eldridge, Moran, Timilty and Hinds, and State Representatives LeBouef and Robinson, Devers, Ultrino, Sabadosa, Lewis, Higgins, and Comb, the Act Establishing Collective Bargaining Rights for TNC Drivers will give rideshare drivers the immediate ability to bargain for improvements to wages, benefits, job safety, and training, and to have a process to grieve unjust or biased deactivation practices that too often cost Bay State drivers their livelihoods.
The bill has been endorsed by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO executive board and is being supported by the International Association of Machinists District 15, the Carmen’s Union Local 589, and other community and labor advocates who say immediate action is needed to give rideshare drivers the collective bargaining and union rights that other kinds of workers enjoy.
All of the groups backing the collective bargaining bill have vigorously protested the Uber and Lyft funded ballot initiative in Massachusetts that would curtail the ability of drivers to gain key protections that come from employee status.
Meanwhile, labor and community advocates say the legislature should act immediately to pass S.1224 so that rideshare workers can improve their lives now by gaining collective bargaining rights and by forming unions. Successfully seeing the bill out of committee following the September 14 hearing will be a key step toward that goal, say drivers and advocates.
In anticipation of winning collective bargaining rights through the bill, hundreds of workers across the state have begun to join the Massachusetts Independent Drivers Guild (Mass. IDG) which launched statewide this summer with the backing of the International Association of Machinists union after the national Independent Drivers Guild helped win drivers in other states wage increases of up to $27 per hour. The International Association of Machinists, which includes more than 600,000 members across the country, is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America.
Some local driver groups in Massachusetts had begun taking up the name of IDG previously, and the official, recent launch of the statewide Massachusetts Independent Drivers Guild will bring new power and resources to drivers who are actively seeking to form a union and win collective bargaining rights.
“We will stand with these drivers and put the full resources of our organization behind their efforts to win collective bargaining and a union,” said Mike Vartebedian, Assistant Directing Business Representative of IAM District 15, who has been organizing drivers from Springfield to New Bedford to Cape Cod as part of the renewed push to address their poor working conditions through the passage of legislation and a union.
“We oppose the Prop 22 ballot initiative that would further restrict the already limited rights that these drivers have while working for companies like Uber and Lyft,” added Vartebedian. “We agree with thousands of drivers and riders who know that workers need collective bargaining rights and a union now, including as we continue to support other fights against the Big Tech companies in the courts and at the ballot box. The Massachusetts legislature has the full ability to give these workers collective bargaining and a fair shot at unionization today and that’s what we’re speaking out for.”
“I love my job and the flexibility it brings, but drivers like me are being squeezed dry by the app companies, and that’s why we urgently need to pass S.1224, granting us collective bargaining rights and a voice on the job,” said Allen Hatch, a resident of New Bedford, MA and driver for Uber and Lyft. “I pay for my own vehicle, gas, maintenance, and repairs, and then Uber and Lyft take a massive cut from our earnings. The wages we are left with are simply not sustainable, but if we had a union, drivers would have the strength in numbers to advocate for change and see the substantive raises we deserve.”
“We see in our community the positive impact it can have when workers are able to form unions and collectively bargain to improve their lives, wages, and working conditions,” said Karen Chen, co-chair of the Chinese Progressive Association, one of the many advocacy groups backing the legislation. “We support S.1224 and hope the legislature will pass it promptly to provide much-needed relief and a voice through industry wide bargaining to these workers who are our friends, family, and neighbors.”
“The more than 6,000 workers of the MBTA who are united in Local 589 stand with all workers seeking a union and collective bargaining rights,” said Jim Evers, President of ATU Local 589 (Carmen’s Union). “We look forward to standing with these workers who face some of the same issues today that our members faced historically working in the often challenging and unsafe transportation sector. Local 589 members over generations banded together to create good, family-sustaining careers in the transportation industry and these workers deserve the same and will have our full support.”
“We stand with collective-bargaining rights for all workers. For too long these workers have endured poverty pay and rigged conditions when providing essential services for our communities and our economy,” said Darlene Lombos, chief officer of the Greater Boston Labor Council. “We stand with collective bargaining rights and with the workers who deserve an immediate path to unionizing and to improving their lives and the lives of their family.”
“The Massachusetts AFL-CIO supports the passage of S.1224 because every worker deserves the right to collective bargaining and a union,” said Steven A. Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “We encourage the legislature to pass this important bill for the benefit of thousands of Massachusetts workers who are currently being illegally and wrongfully excluded from organizing rights by their Big Tech employers.”
Rideshare workers are currently among the least protected workforce in Massachusetts, carved out of regulations that cover other workers in the state which would allow them to negotiate over their wage, benefits, or working conditions. New Massachusetts legislation, S.1224, would grant these excluded workers the freedom to collectively bargain over these issues already enjoyed by other workers throughout the state. As Big Tech companies gear up to pour millions into passing aggressive anti-driver legislation in Massachusetts, S.1224 will lift tens of thousands of rideshare drivers out of poverty, and provide them with the voice on the job every worker deserves.
# # #
The Massachusetts Independent Drivers Guild is a new statewide affiliate of the largest rideshare driver organization in the nation and proud to be affiliated with the International Association of Machinists. We are a driver-led and driver-powered advocacy group fighting for the rights of drivers across the country. Our primary mission is to unite drivers in the fight for the right to collective bargaining, which is the only way to stop driver exploitation by giving drivers the power to negotiate equitable work conditions for themselves. We are workers united for a fair industry.