News & Commentary

June 28, 2024

Holt McKeithan

Holt McKeithan is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary, Massachusetts wins benefits for gig drivers in deal with Uber and Lyft, Amazon drivers in Illinois go on strike, and CEO pay is accelerating.

Massachusetts’ four-year long driver misclassification suit against Uber and Lyft was settled yesterday. The suit, filed by the commonwealth’s attorney general’s office in 2020, alleged that the companies misclassified their drivers as independent contractors, and thus failed to provide employment benefits like paid time off and a minimum wage. The agreement allows Uber and Lyft to continue treating their drivers as contractors, but comes with a suite of concessions. The companies will pay the state $175 million dollars, adopt a $32.50 hourly minimum pay standard for Massachusetts drivers, and provide sick leave, accident insurance, and healthcare stipends to drivers.  

The fight over driver classification in Massachusetts is still unsettled. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that two ballot questions regarding driver classification may appear on the 2024 ballot. Uber and Lyft previously supported an initiative that would legally classify drivers as independent contractors, while the SEIU backs an initiative that would grant drivers organizing rights. As part of the settlement agreement, Uber and Lyft agreed to stop supporting and funding the former. That is a significant concession; the companies spent $200 million backing a similar successful ballot measure in California. 

Drivers working for an Amazon sub-contractor in Illinois struck yesterday over unfair labor practices. The workers claim Amazon terminated its contract with the Amazon sub-contractor, effectively firing the employees, in retaliation for organizing with the Teamsters local. Amazon terminated the contract after the workers received a majority card-support and marched on management for recognition. The Teamsters are now picketing 30 Amazon warehouses.

New data shows CEO pay is increasing at the highest rate since 2010. Median CEO pay, which was already 251 times higher than median worker pay in 2023, has increased at three-times the rate of average worker pay so far this year. 

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