MA Court Strikes App-Driver Ballot Initiative

Gig worker initiative will no longer appear on ballot

Jun 14, 2022

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against a planned ballot initiative that would have defined gig work drivers as independent contractors and guaranteed a minimum level of earnings as well as new benefits and protections. The Court ruled that the initiative, which will no longer appear on the ballot this November, presented voters with multiple distinct policy decisions, violating state law.

“This ruling is disappointing for gig drivers who want to maintain their flexibility at work,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich. “California’s Prop 22 vote and the recent Washington state compromise show an emerging public consensus around respecting gig drivers’ desire for both flexibility and guaranteed benefits and pay. Unfortunately, it looks like Massachusetts voters won’t get a say this year – but we hope state legislators take a fresh look at the issue.”

Earlier this year, Chamber of Progress submitted an amicus brief in support of the Massachusetts gig worker ballot initiative, making the case that voter sentiment and lawmaker priorities have not, historically, aligned on this issue. The amicus brief states: 

“The enactment of HB 2076 [the Washington compromise] marks the emergence of a political consensus between legislators, organized labor, voters, and drivers, that respects app-based drivers’ preference for independent contractor status.

As discussed above, all indications are that the same is true among Massachusetts’ voters and app-based drivers. Namely, surveys demonstrate that voters in the Commonwealth want to maintain the independent contractor status of app-based drivers for TNC and DNC companies, with enhanced benefits, and the Petitions should be on the November 2022 ballot to reveal Bay State voters’ preferences on this issue.

This April, Chamber of Progress released a new economic analysis finding that a national rule reclassifying independent contractors as full-time employees could result in a loss of direct income for approximately 3.4 million American workers. The report, titled “The Many Ways Americans Work and The Costs of Treating Independent Contractors As Employees,” details the impact on workers and wages if the United States were to implement sweeping changes to reclassify independent workers as employees. The report finds that such changes could cost the nation’s most vulnerable communities more than $31 billion.


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