State lawmakers, labor unions and tech companies are nearing a deal to introduce legislation that would grant gig-economy workers in New York the right to a union — but stop short of reclassifying them as employees. The push, which drew ire and skepticism from some experts and labor leaders, came amid a growing movement among essential workers in New York and beyond who toil for Uber, DoorDash and other app-based outfits with few benefits or workplace protections.
For months, State Sen. The proposal will codify unemployment rights and give workers a union voice. The proposal would also preempt local governments from imposing some forms of regulations on the apps, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the deal. Lack of access to restrooms became a flashpoint for workers who had few places to relieve themselves during the pandemic because they were neither restaurant employees nor employed by the apps.
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The issue helped spur the formation of Los Deliveristas Unidos — a collective of mostly immigrant food couriers affiliated with the Workers Justice Project that has received the support of some local lawmakers and 32BJ SEIU. While some lawmakers in Albany are waiting to see the specifics before they comment, the proposal is already facing some backlash. She was referring to the Protect the Right to Organize Acta sweeping reform of national labor law which seeks, among other things, to grant full employment rights to independent contractors nationwide.
I mean, how can anybody in the labor movement, particularly in a state like New York, and its legislators, how can they back something like that? Why would we settle for second class status for gig workers when the entire national labor movement is unified around the PRO Act? It certainly isn't gig workers, the broader labor movement, or future generations.
Experts studying the gig labor movement say that the bill as described could set a negative precedent if it erodes local regulations and fails to reclassify the workers as full company employees entitled to benefits and protections.
Last month, delivery workers in New York City secured key legislative support from the City Council, which introduced five bills aimed at protecting workers in the industry — including providing restaurant bathroom access, regulating the travel distance between deliveries and establishing regular per-trip pay standards. Tech companies have already scored some big wins in preventing the gig workers from being reclassified.
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