• In Massachusetts, most gig workers are currently classified as employees.
  • A coalition poured $17.8 million into a campaign to classify gig workers as independent contractors.
  • On Tuesday, Massachusetts' top court blocked the attempt.

Massachusetts' top court on Tuesday blocked an attempt by delivery- and ride-hailing companies to classify their gig workers as contractors instead of employees.

In Massachusetts, most gig workers are currently classified as employees, which means they are entitled to benefits including minimum wage and overtime pay. In August, an industry coalition called the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work proposed classifying gig workers as independent contractors. The group, which includes Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, and Instacart, hoped to have Massachusetts voters approve the proposal in the November elections.

The coalition said approving the measure would give gig workers the freedom to decide how they wanted to carry out their work. The companies promised to offer healthcare stipends and minimum pay to workers. During an earnings call in August, Lyft cofounder and president John Zimmer said classifying gig workers as contractors would give drivers "flexible earning opportunities" and "new benefits."

Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, and Instacart collectively poured $17.85 million into the campaign last year, according to data from the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance

But opponents slammed the proposal, saying it would hurt workers. In September, the Coalition to Protect Workers' Rights said the proposal would cause drivers' wages to dip below the minimum level, reduce the number of workers eligible for healthcare stipends, and absolve companies of liabilities for workers' injuries. Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted her support for the activists.


On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's justices said in a unanimous decision that the proposal had "vague and open-ended provisions" that did not specify how liable the companies would be for workers' accidents and that as such, the ballot did not meet constitutional requirements. 

After the court's decision, State Attorney General Maura Healey told Reuters she would continue championing the workers' cause so that they can have "the same rights as all other employees."

The Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work did not say if it would appeal the ruling.

The decision comes amid increased awareness of the risks that gig workers face on the job. Californian voters attempted to pass a proposal in 2020 to exempt the same companies from classifying contractors as employees, but the proposal was ruled unconstitutional in August. The proposal's backers are now appealing the ruling, per Bloomberg.

Read the original article on Business Insider