SAUGUS (WBZ NewsRadio) — Massachusetts rideshare drivers joined labor activists for a rally in Saugus Wednesday in the middle of a heated ongoing fight for unionization.
A caravan of over 100 Uber and Lyft drivers drove from Lynn to Uber headquarters in Saugus, demanding their need for a union and sharing stories about the loss of income after being unfairly deactivated from the platform.
"We want fair pay, we want fair working conditions, we want to end unfair deactivation," said D. Beth Griffith, Executive Director of the Boston Independent Drivers Guild.
The rally comes as two new rideshare driver bills make their way through the Massachusetts House and Senate. The Rideshare Drivers Justice Bill (HD 2071 and SD 1162) would pursue collective bargaining rights across rideshare companies, and would guarantee a minimum wage, paid sick leave, workers' compensation, and other benefits.
"Finally there is a worker voice coming together," said Roxana Rivera of Service Employees International Union, who led the rally. "So workers are now saying we want a voice. We want to be able to have power in this conversation."
Not all rideshare drivers in Massachusetts are on the side of unionization. The Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, which is backing two bills of its own, says drivers want to keep the flexibility of being independent contractors.
"Rideshare and delivery drivers spent last year making their voices heard loud and clear: they want to remain independent," the coalition said in a statement to WBZ NewsRadio. "Survey after survey shows that drivers rely on the flexibility that comes with being independent contractors, and they do not want to be employees. We’re encouraged to see two bills at the State House that seek to give drivers what they want. Now it’s critical that legislators, drivers, labor leaders and industry come together to pass a bill that prioritizes flexibility and supports the livelihoods of tens of thousands of drivers. Unfortunately, two other bills claim to represent the voices of rideshare and delivery drivers but it’s obvious those measures do not reflect the clearly stated needs and wishes of the vast majority of drivers across Massachusetts. Over 80% of drivers spoke loud and clear last year when they said they wanted to remain independent contractors. It’s time to respect drivers and their wishes."
WBZ's Madison Rogers (@MadisonWBZ) reports.