BOSTON – Opponents of a ballot question that would revise worker status and app-based driver benefits have urged Attorney General Maura Healey to declare the proposal invalid, while supporters have filed a new complaint with regulators campaign finance.
In the final flights of an already controversial campaign, the industry-backed coalition seeking a new landscape for application-based pilots and the worker-backed coalition that wants businesses in the economy to odd jobs working under existing state law asked state agencies to intervene.
The Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights, which is fighting the ballot issue, released a memorandum it sent to Healey calling on him to find the proposal unconstitutional, alleging that it inappropriately mixes several topics in a an argument that supporters of the petition called “extraordinary”.
Both versions of Healey’s pending ballot question include language that would state that all app-based drivers are independent contractors instead of employees; provide drivers with access to benefits such as paid sick leave; and describe the requirements for workers’ compensation insurance.
Opponents, who include groups such as the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts and the ACLU of Massachusetts, allege the combination of issues does not meet a “relationship” requirement that all petitions of initiative must be clear and could “confuse and mislead voters”.
“The petitions are misleading because they suggest that voters who support increased protections and benefits for app-based drivers must also agree to these drivers being classified as independent contractors before they can get such protections,” they said. written to Healey’s office. “But of course, a voter may want app-based drivers to get benefits and protections, unaware that app-based drivers should (but don’t) currently have legal employment protections that go beyond by far the regulatory proposals of the petitions. “
Officials from the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights also told Healey’s office that a section of the ballot question would function as a “shield of accountability.” In a statement provided by the opposition campaign, consumer rights lawyer Gary Klein said the inclusion shows that “big businesses are trying to escape basic accountability and accountability to customers and the consumer. public, and reduce their incentives to make their services more secure “.
Supporters of the issue, backed by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart, fought back that the note to Healey was based on “outlandish claims.”
“Given that drivers are supporting the ballot issue by a seven-to-one margin, it’s no surprise that opponents of driver independence want to distract from this fact by making outlandish claims that don’t resist. not in the examination, all to prevent voters from having a say, “said Conor Yunits, spokesperson for the Coalition for Independent Work, which proposed the question of the poll.
“This ballot question raises the standard for the industry by making public safety training mandatory for drivers, and it adds workers’ compensation insurance to the million dollar commercial auto liability insurance that Massachusetts law already requires application-based ridesharing companies, ”Yunits added.
Healey is reviewing the dozens of own-initiative petitions filed in the current cycle and plans to announce by September 1 those she has certified to meet constitutional requirements.
The certification process focuses only on a set of constitutional requirements and not on the opinion of the Attorney General on the merits of a question.
Separately, Healey is suing Uber and Lyft over allegations that their practice of designating drivers as independent contractors violates state laws on wages and hours.
Members of the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights unveiled their calls for the attorney general to raise the issue at a rally Tuesday morning outside Healey’s office in Boston.
Hours earlier, the Self-Employment Coalition filed a formal complaint with the state’s Office of Campaigning and Political Financing, asking the regulatory agency to investigate opponents of the voting questions on the allegations that they received contributions and incurred campaign expenses before formally forming a political fundraising committee. .
OCPF records show that the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights submitted an organizing statement for a voting issues committee on August 3. 4.
“Checking a box on (the form of organization of the committee) does not excuse the obvious fact that the CPWR raised and spent funds without taking the necessary steps to allow it,” wrote Coalition member Josh Gold. for Independent Work. in its complaint to the OCPF.
Opposition campaign leader Mike Firestone last week lodged a complaint with the OCPF alleging that the Coalition for Independent Work raised and spent money on consultants, campaign materials and publicity before announcing his intention to continue a poll and convene a committee.