SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There was a discussion about the need for a solution for the future of rideshare and delivery drivers in Springfield held on Tuesday.
Business leaders from the Springfield area gathered at the Latino Economic Development Corporation on Fort Street to discuss the future of independent contractors.
Around 83% of drivers in Massachusetts are wanting to remain independent contractors, but labor unions and politicians in Boston are trying to force them in becoming employees. That includes people like rideshare drivers for Uber or Lyft or delivery drivers for Instacart or Door Dash.
Drivers discussed why the flexibility of independence works for them and for other small businesses. Lyft driver, Octavio Mejia-Suarez, told 22News he likes being an independent contractor because it gives him flexibility, “My father and my mother’s health started decaying because of old age. I needed something to be flexible. This was the best thing.”
Latino Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Andrew Melendez said independent contracting work could become more popular for more local businesses in the future. “We might have categories of hotels and coffee shops that say, we want someone to pick up a few shifts here and there, and they don’t have to be an employee. This is striving for the future. In Massachusetts, we have independent contractors and an employee. There’s no wiggle room. I do think there’s a place for that third place right in the middle.”
Last year, Massachusetts Supreme Court threw out a ballot question that would have codified into law drivers’ independent contractor status, which would lead to to guaranteed flexibility and access to benefits. Opponents think gig workers should be considered employees because they say contract-based work leaves drivers with low wages and allows big-tech companies to skirt labor laws.
Gig workers who opposed the ballot question have previously gathered at the state house in Boston to express their desire to have collective bargaining rights for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. They have demanded action in this next legislative session.