June 23, 2021

Uber and Lyft Ramp Up Efforts to Shield Business Model

Some labor groups involved in the discussions, like the state A.F.L.-C.I.O., became tepid in their support. John Samuelsen, the president of the Transport Workers Union, backed away from the proposal, citing concerns that workers wouldn’t be allowed to strike and opposition from delivery workers.

An Uber official who was not authorized to speak publicly said the company was open to changes that would make it easier for more than one union to represent workers in the ride-hailing or delivery industries. A subsequent draft eased restrictions on striking during negotiations with the companies.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash said in statements that they remained interested in working with “stakeholders” on legislation.

But for all the opposition to the proposal, the episode suggested that some sort of deal remains possible in New York and other states where gig companies or industry groups have explored independent contractor legislation, including Illinois, Massachusetts and Connecticut, all with legislatures controlled by Democrats. Some of these states have policies allowing drivers to be deemed employees.

State Senator Diane J. Savino, who has been a key participant in the New York legislative efforts, said in an interview on Monday that she had recently reached out to a broader set of groups and that the discussion would continue in the coming weeks. “The clock may have run out on the legislative session, but it has not run out on the issue,” she said.

Critically, even many labor groups dismissive of the New York proposal have stopped short of insisting on all the rights and protections of employee status. “Their priorities are to have a living wage, have the right to organize and have more safety protections,” said Ms. Guallpa of the Workers Justice Project when asked how important it is to delivery workers to be classified as employees. “No one’s organizing around that issue.”

If the gig companies make more meaningful concessions, such as ensuring a more independent union, then a number of labor groups may be ready to take them up on it, ceding employee status in exchange.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/09/business/economy/uber-lyft-gig-workers-new-york.html

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