A bill that would codify the rights and benefits of rideshare drivers and other gig workers has made headway in the Washington state legislature over the past month. Currently, the bill has passed the state’s house and has reached the senate for further consideration. Included among the bill’s sponsors are ridesharing companies themselves, as well as Teamsters local 117 and it’s affiliate, Drivers Union.
Bills with similar language have received the interest of state lawmakers across the country over the past year. For example, similar regulatory bills have also been introduced in Massachusetts and New York, though Washington’s has thus far made it the farthest.
Initiatives like the one in Washington do expand the rights and benefits of drivers, including increased pay, an improved appeals system for deactivated drivers, and an expanded workers compensation system. However, it notably maintains the workers’ status as independent contractors, rather than reclassifying them as full-or-part-time employees.
A further item that critics of the bill point to is that expanded workers’ comp would only be in effect when a driver is on the way to pick up a passenger or actually has a passenger in the car; the legislation describes these activities as “dispatch platform time” and “passenger platform time” respectively. This would leave workers vulnerable if they get injured between fares, while they are roving and awaiting a new trip request.
Although touting the bill as a reasonable compromise between sides, rideshare and gig logistics companies have gestured towards the threat that, if they don’t get a legislative compromise, they will pursue a ballot initiative in Washington akin to Prop 22 in California. Lyft has put $2 million into a newly formed political action committee, called the Washington Coalition for Independent Work with clones in New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts. It also has the backing of Instacart, DoorDash, and Uber, which have committed to contribute to the PAC.
Reporting Courtesy of Seam Hagerup for Labor Radio
Image courtesy of Stock Catalog on Flickr