Empowered or Exploited Entrepreneurs: Voters Determine Rideshare Drivers’ Fate on November Ballot

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Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with communications expert and cofounder of South & Hill Strategies Lizzy Guyton about what the research on the profiles and preferences of rideshare drivers tells us about the industry, and the possible effects of designating independent contractors as employees.

Guest:

Lizzy Guyton is a veteran communications strategist with more than a decade of experience in high-stakes issues at the state and national level.  Before founding South & Hill Strategies, Ms. Guyton served as Communications Director to Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. As an original member of the Administration’s senior staff since Baker’s inauguration in 2015, she crafted and oversaw all public messaging, including several high-profile crises and historic challenges. Most recently, Ms. Guyton spearheaded the communications strategy for Massachusetts’ COVID-19 statewide response, which has emerged as a national leader in several categories.  Her dynamic skill set has been honed in the fast-paced and demanding environment of the Executive Office– where she is constantly at the epicenter of balancing government, politics and private sector challenges. Prior to joining the Baker-Polito Administration, Ms. Guyton worked on Capitol Hill and ran communications for high profile senate and congressional campaigns in New England and the Midwest. Ms. Guyton graduated from Union College in Schenectady, NY.

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Please excuse typos.

Joe Selvaggi:

This is Hubwonk, I’m Joe Selvaggi

Joe Selvaggi:

Welcome to Hubwonk, a podcast of Pioneer Institute, a think tank in Boston in November, Massachusetts voters will be asked to decide whether app based drivers will be independent contractors or be designated employees of the respective ride share firms. The outcome of this ballot question will not merely affect the future employment relationship of the 92,000 full-time equivalent drivers in Massachusetts, but also their clients who rely on the services for transportation and deliveries. This high stakes question has attracted the support of rideshare firms, such as Uber and Lyft eager to preserve their driver’s contractor status and protect the $8.3 billion contribution that ride shares. Now add to the state’s economy. It is also drawn pointed criticism from organized labor and community activists who assert that without the protection conferred by employee status, drivers will be denied benefits and worker rights and expose their writers to additional risk. You’ll be up to the voters to decide whether these valuable transportation services can be improved with this government intervention or whether such changes could potentially harm the very drivers and rider.

Joe Selvaggi:

The activists are trying to help where converters go to learn more about the trade offs involved with their choice and can the preferences of the drivers themselves be a useful guide for our decision. My guest today is Lizzie Guyton, the former communications director for Governor Baker and co-founder of the communications firm south and hill. Miss Guyton is now working for the flexibility and benefits for Massachusetts drivers’ campaign, an organization advocating for a yes, vote on the ballot question, and which is primarily funded by app based driving firms, including door dash, Uber and Lyft. Ms. Guyton will discuss the range of research data on app-based driving both in favor and against and share her views on the implications of the ballots outcome. She will attempt to persuade listeners that a yes vote will not merely benefit ride share firms who are her clients, but also the drivers, the clients, and the communities that they serve. Our listeners will have to decide for themselves which future they prefer when they vote in November. When I return, I’ll be joined by communications expert Lizzy Guyton.

Joe Selvaggi:

Okay, we’re back. This is Hubwonk, I’m Joe Selvaggi, and I’m now pleased to be joined by communications expert and co-founder of South and Hill strategies. Lizzy Guyton, welcome to Hubwonk, Lizzy. Hi Joe. It’s great to be with you today. Great to have you. You’re a first timer here on our, our podcast. So I want our listeners to get to know a little bit about you. Your connection to public policy is that you were a member of our inner circle of our very popular governor baker for some time, tell us about your work with the governor and you know, what your role sort of in the policy world has been.

Lizzie Guyton:

Sure. So prior to founding my communications firm, which is called South & Hill strategies, I was the communications director for Governor Charlie Baker worked in the administration for about seven years and really had an excellent opportunity to be part of some of the incredible things that have gone on in Massachusetts. The good, bad, the ugly over the past several years from COVID 19 to the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, and really valued being part of a team that was really focused on getting things done and reaching across the aisle to benefit the residents of Massachusetts.

Joe Selvaggi:

That that’s good. And again, if you, you did a great job we have a Republican governor and a deep deep blue state and he’s wildly popular. So something’s gone right there. <Laugh> now we wanna help Massachusetts voters, those people who listen to our show are, are are solid voters and they wanna learn more about one of the valid questions that’s coming up in November. This is about the designation of the drivers who who ride the Ubers and the Lyfts how we designate those workers, give us a high level description of the ballot question. What will it say? What will a yes or no vote on those that ballot question mean for our voters?

Lizzie Guyton:

Sure. So there is a ballot question that will likely be before voters this November, and the ballot question is whether or not to classify ride share and delivery drivers. So folks that are driving for platforms like Uber, Lyft door, dash, and Instacart as independent contractors. And I would point out that right now, these individuals are classified as independent contractors. So a yes, vote on this ballot question would ensure that they continue to maintain that independent contractor status. In addition, they would be getting access to new benefits and earnings and happy to explain a little bit more about that as well.

Joe Selvaggi:

So we’re talking about the difference between an independent contractor and an employee. This is not merely a semantic dish difference. This, these designations come with rights, privileges benefits for the benefit of our listeners. What’s the difference between if they remain independent contractors or they become something else, what would that something else be in mean?

Lizzie Guyton:

So as independent contractors ride share and delivery drivers, they have the flexibility to choose when, where, and how long they drive. They get to be their own boss. And that’s something that we know drivers truly value in Massachusetts over 80% of drivers prefer to be independent contractors and want to remain. So being a full-time employee and employee designation. On the other hand, everybody, I think has a, a good understanding for what that means. If you’re full time, you have a supervisor, you have required hours. If you’re looking to take a vacation day or time off, it’s something that you have to request and have processed and the freedom to really work when you want, where you want for as long as you want is not necessarily something that’s on the table.

Joe Selvaggi:

I, I, I indeed I, I went deep into the research and learned what the terms P one P two P three mean. And P one is when you decide whether you want to take a a a job or not P two is when you’re on your way in P threes, I guess, is when you’re actually doing the driving. But drivers love the flexibility, I suppose, of being able to decide when they want to work, which is an entirely a independent contractor’s prerogative. But let’s compare that then the flexibility of the independent contractor with being an employee, you rattled off a couple things like a, a supervisor and a schedule. There are quite a few people advocating for this transition to designate independent contractors as employees, including the attorney general Mala heals. She she’s suing rideshare firms to require that they make their drivers become employees. What it would it mean for an Uber driver to move from an independent contractor into the classification that, that our attorney general wants them to be in.

Lizzie Guyton:

So right now, ride share and delivery drivers on these app based services, they have the freedom and flexibility to choose when they’re driving, where they’re driving in for how long, and for a lot of drivers, it’s actually not their, their first job. They have other jobs, they could be students, or they could be working in another job, or they also could be caregivers and seniors that are choosing to do this in their free time, if they were to be transitioned to an employee status and they would have to take on, you know, all of the requirements that employees do have this ballot question is not only going offers to preserve the independent contractor status so that drivers can continue to, to work the way that they are now, which we know that they, they like, and in actually in many cases would recommend this type of work to friends and family, but it also would require the companies to provide new benefits and earning guarantees for them.

Lizzie Guyton:

For example paid family medical leave eligible for healthcare stipends, if they’re working over 15 hours and sick time. And right now these drivers are making about $26 an hour on average. And if this legislation does, is approved on the ballot in November, then they would also be, get guaranteed earnings. If they’re not making you know, a certain amount when they’re out bribing for, you know, 3, 4, 5, 6 hours, whatever their timeframe is, then they would get a guaranteed earning, which is actually 120% of the minimum wage of Massachusetts.

Joe Selvaggi:

Yes, they read it in some of my research that these drivers are making $26 an hour on average. And that’s far higher than taxi drivers, even chauffeurs. So their wage is quite high now. But this ballot measure would offer some other additional benefits. Now the ballot measure is giving the decision to the voters, but we’re gonna between now and November, I suppose, be treated to both sides, argument there’s sides aligned in support of this ballot measure. And then of course, those who are against this ballot measure. So you’ve just mentioned that it’s very popular with the drivers themselves. Drivers want the, to remain independent contractors if they don’t if they wanna remain independent con who is it that who, who else is joining them in this fight? Are they have they United themselves, or are there others trying to preserve their, their role as independent contractors?

Lizzie Guyton:

Sure. So this foul question is supported by the companies that I’ve mentioned, Uber Lyft door dash Instacart. Those are the app based services that would be jeopardized if there were changes to the independent contractor status, not only for their drivers, but also for the impact that these services have in Massachusetts communities. And this is also a campaign that has a growing coalition, not only of drivers, but of small businesses, of chambers, of commerce, of folks that understand that if there were changes that it would impact the day to day and some of the economic activity that occurs in Massachusetts, and these are services that consumers and businesses very much rely on not only for mobility, but also to get, you know, food delivery grocery delivery medicine delivery in some cases. And if there were significant changes and drivers are no longer providing these services, that would be jeopardized

Joe Selvaggi:

Indeed. These, this is no small matter. I, I read the research on the fact that right at this moment ride share, add about 8.3 billion annually to the Massachusetts economy. So there’s a lot of money at stake here. And a lot of businesses that rely beyond the drivers on, on these services, if, if there seems to be unanimity among drivers and businesses who would be against this, who is it that wants to make and is willing to pay and put out the manpower for this ballot to go down and defeat. And in other words designate drivers as employees.

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah, so that side of the argument is being represented very much by big labor and special interest groups. And some politicians that don’t, that do believe that drivers should be forced to become employees and not can no longer maintain that independent contractor status.

Joe Selvaggi:

Well, many of our listeners will walk into the booth and maybe not be familiar with this this question at all. But I imagine a perfect ballot measure would probably put the question to the voter, to the drivers themselves. In other words, they ought to know what’s best for them. I’m gonna make a, maybe that’s a normative statement, but I’m gonna start that drivers know what’s what’s best for them. If this were left just to the, to the drivers, you mentioned earlier that there’s a preference add some color to that, that information, how much do by what percentage do current drivers prefer to remain independent contractors versus those who would prefer to become employees.

Lizzie Guyton:

So 81% of drivers support this ballot measure to be independent contractors, and even further 79% of drivers would recommend this work to, to friends and families. So they, they enjoy this work and it’s, it’s their choice to decide to, to work for these apps. And, you know, Joe, it’s so much more than percentages. I mean, we spend a lot of time with these drivers and listen to their stories and listen to how they’re utilizing this work. Our drivers, you know, in Massachusetts, our students, they are retirees that are, you know, working these shifts to, you know, save a little extra cash to, to buy things for their grandkids and to enjoy their retirement. They have other jobs that they’re working at small businesses or other businesses. And, you know, they’re also parents they’ caregivers that maybe the only time that they have to make some extra money for their family is to you know, drive during school hours when they have coverage for childcare. So it’s really about that, the stories and, and the faces of this campaign and what this means to them and how, if there was a change and they were no longer you know, allowed to have this flexibility to drive. It would significantly change what they call work.

Joe Selvaggi:

You, you mentioned a whole range of, of, of profiles of drivers add a little more color to that. Are most drivers using this as a, you know, the so-called side hustle or are, are more, is it is split down the middle half are full-time drivers. The other half are adding it to their already busy work week.

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah. So listeners might be surprised to know that most drivers this is not their, their full-time job or their only job, they have other jobs that they’re doing. And most drivers are driving for about 15 hours per week on these apps. And you know, it’s also interesting because it’s not only that drivers are enjoying, you know, working for an Uber or a Lyft. They oftentimes work for several platforms and they get to decide when they switch between, you know, Uber Lyft door, dash Instacart, and for how long they do it. You know, if you try to compare that to a regular employment, it would be the equivalent of, you know, someone working at a, a Starbucks and halfway through their shift saying, oh, I think I’m gonna, you know, go across the street and start you know, filling orders at the dunking donuts. You don’t have that kind of flexibility, but in, for these app based services in Massachusetts, the drivers do, and it’s something that they really value for a variety of reasons.

Joe Selvaggi:

So economists would call perfectly efficient market where the where the E employer or the worker can work, where he wants when he, when he wants for how much he wants at any given moment. So that’s, that’s a pretty profound idea. What’s the profile of the person. Do you have data on the the income level the race or sex or background of drivers? Is it a fairly diverse, or does it match our our the demographics of our state in general?

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah, the driving community is very diverse. It’s not only diverse in the fact that it’s people of color, but it’s people of all ages, it’s students, it’s retirees. It’s people that, you know, it’s, it’s not their primary job and they’re doing it as you know, a second job or something that they’re doing in their free time. So it does really spread across all different levels of you know, diversity and age and race. And these are the jobs that they’re choosing that, that people value and that they, they wanna continue to do and not be obstructed by you know, politicians or, or special interest groups telling them how they should be working when they found something that really fits not only for them, but for their families. And it’s a great way for drivers to earn money when they want, where they want, if they’re saving up for a special occasion, or they wanna save up for a vacation, they have the, the opportunity to put an extra hours and extra time over, you know, any given period of time. And then when they are ready to take that vacation, they get to do it without having to ask a boss for permission, and they have the ability to enjoy that time and get back on the apps when they’re ready.

Joe Selvaggi:

That’s an interesting concept. I, I think those who are pro employee, if I can characterize the other side that way wanna characterize drivers as, as, as, as hopelessly desperate looking for any kind of job and, and settle for this kind of employment. I, I, I think the fact that we have virtually 0% effective employer right now lays bear that, that notion clearly these people who are driving in our current employment situation would have other options. Does your data suggest that, you know, in a sense, even though most firms can’t find employees are ride share companies seem like they have people lining up to take the jobs around the corner.

Lizzie Guyton:

As I mentioned before, you know, our data shows that an overwhelming percentage of drivers enjoy the work and they would recommend it to friends and family, you know, 70% of, of drivers say that they enjoy working these jobs, and they’re citing the flexibility as the top priority for that over 90% saying that having the flexibility and the ability to choose your own hours and make your own schedule is a huge reason that they have decided to, to work for app based services, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart. And, you know, when that flexibility, if that is potentially taken away, then it’s going to remove one of the main incentives that, that entice people to wanna work for these jobs and take these jobs. And as mentioned before, not only would they be able to remain independent contractors and maintain that flexibility, but they also would be getting access to new and historic benefits for earnings and for healthcare, sick time, paid family medical, leave, these things that they don’t currently have. So if a yes, vote would preserve that choice and preserve the, the working conditions that we know that these drivers appreciate and value. And there are other opportunities for employment, you know, in Massachusetts other driving opportunities. And they’re, they’re going with the apps for the reasons that we’ve cited and earning $26 an hour in this economy with inflation and cost being high people have flexibility and choice to, to earn high wages and will then again, be getting new guarantees.

Joe Selvaggi:

Now, our conversation really has focused on the fact that the drivers themselves really like this work, they like everything about it, but there are those many times we have on our show economists academics, people who study let’s say a worker or employer behavior among those who have gone deep on this particular issue is the a well known MIT economist, Jonathan Gruber. He did a paper that I’ve read that it, you know, it’s a bit bewildering. I think it, the, the the, the thesis was that he’s somewhat discouraged that in our modern economy more workers are moving away from traditional employers to, to the flexibility of a gig economy. We’re all becoming independent contractors. And in that move, we’re sort of leaving behind those things that had traditionally been provided by our, by our employers, such as pensions or health insurance his thesis and his research seems to suggest that though the drivers themselves seem to prefer the independent contractor, they don’t really know what they’re giving away. They don’t really understand that by becoming drivers instead of employees that the cost is hidden and that they will though thereby no longer have an incentive to save for retirement no longer have an incentive to put a Mon away money for health insurance. Do you think in in your analysis of the research are Uber drivers going to be without insurance and without any retirement? Is, is that the, the profile that you see?

Lizzie Guyton:

Well, first of all, there was also information from that study that you’re referencing that suggested that drivers prefer pay over benefits. And when you look at these jobs that we’re, we’re talking about for, for rides share and delivery, they’re not only earning an average of $26 an hour, they’re keeping 100% of their tips and are able to enjoy, you know, getting the, the, the paychecks from their, their driving in a short period of time, and actually put that money to good use and their households and for their families and with the a yes, vote on this ballot question, companies would also be required to provide some of these additional benefits that we’ve discussed and guaranteed earnings for drivers. So they would be getting both the earnings and the benefits.

Joe Selvaggi:

Indeed. I didn’t like the Gruber analysis either. He, he cited his own work in, in his own paper and made a couple of references to the old Chestnut that Americans lacked the resources to cover cover a $400 medical bill, unexpected medical bill leaving out that they don’t have that money in cash. They, of course they have that money. They just don’t have it in cash, but let’s, let’s, let’s move forward and just say, okay, let’s stipulate. What a professor Gruber says, which is you know you know, drivers in his, in his paper perhaps might be better off as employees. Let’s, let’s imagine a world where they are made employees. What would, what, how would that affect our world right now? How would, if we take away that flexibility and insist that drivers become employees, what would be some of let’s talk about first, the, the good things, what would a, a driver now enjoy as an employee that he didn’t as an independent contractor?

Lizzie Guyton:

So a yes. Vote allowing rideshare and delivery drivers to remain independent. Contractors does not put a cap on how many hours they can work. So if drivers are able to remain independent contractors, they can work as many hours as they want. They can work these you know, some do work as full-time on these apps and they could continue to do so. I think that the, the nuance is that if the question is approved, if a yes vote is approved and they’re able to secure this independent contractor status, no one’s being limited with their work. And they’re also going to be receiving these additional benefits. So if you wanted to, to utilize app-based work as a full-time job as some people very well do. It’s a smaller percentage in the grand scheme of things, but there are certainly individuals that drive for these jobs full-time they can still do so, and still do.

Lizzie Guyton:

So you know, on their own terms with their own hours and taking a day off, if, you know, they’re sick, or if they, you know, need to do something with you know, a sick parent or a kid but they’re also gonna be getting access to the new benefits that we mentioned and the guaranteed earnings. But it would not be negatively impacting those who may only wanna be driving for a certain amount of time and who don’t wanna be taking on all of the requirements of full-time employment, because we know that the flexibility is the main driver for why folks are, are gravitating towards these jobs.

Joe Selvaggi:

So it, okay. So we’ve talked about, you know, indeed it’s up to the driver, if they wanna drive full-time or drive part-time if they’re required to re you know, be employees there would be additional if we, we accept that there would get some benefit from being an employee, that benefit would come at a cost and that cost would either go to the employer or ultimately it would mean higher cost of labor less flexibility but of course, fewer job opportunities. If they were, you know, constrained in when they could drive or how much they could drive or what they had to be paid to be Dr. Drivers we would have fewer drivers right. What would you, what has your research told you of, you know, this, this brave new world where every driver as an employee, what would that look like? What, how would that affect the number of drivers, the, the available drivers? What would the world look like in that future?

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah, it’s a really important question. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the drivers and all of the implications that would happen directly for them, but there’s also an economic impact on what it would mean for consumers and for small businesses and for the Massachusetts Massachusetts economy as a whole. And we do know that if there were, if drivers were required to be full-time employees, that up to 70,000 of them may decide to no longer drive for these apps. So what does that mean? That means that with significantly less drivers, it’s a pretty high margin around 80% of drivers that are currently on the roads today, that they would no longer be provi providing the service. There’d be less availability for consumers and for, you know, the restaurants and the retail that are using ride share to deliver goods or to transport passengers from point a to point B.

Lizzie Guyton:

And there, of course, could be you know, a cost implication that again, if it’s harder to get a car, that it would be more expensive to get a car. And, you know, you think about Massachusetts and some of the ways that consumers are using these apps, if you have to get an early ride to the airport and you’re relying on you know, your ride share, and for some reason, it’s, you know, astronomically expensive or they don’t show up, that’s a problem. So, you know, having fewer drivers on the road and less availability and, and competition for services is certainly something that could be felt by consumers and by the local economies in Massachusetts.

Joe Selvaggi:

Yes. I have to assume if there were fewer drivers, each of those drivers would cost substantially more not to mention any of the costs of being an employee that will be, of course, passed to the consumer of the driver. So, yeah, we’ve got a more expensive ride shares, fewer cars on the road. And I also wanna talk about some of your research point is the fact that these services don’t just cater to affluent consumers. They’re very much useful to those people who work. And I, I hate to use a term like this transportation deserts, those places that don’t have either mass transit or, or mass transit that doesn’t run in the middle of the night, you know, what, what are those folks supposed to do? We are both old enough to know what it was like when we relied on cabs, it’s somewhat substantially less reliable and, and, and, and less valuable. What would those communities look like if we had far fewer drivers, can you, can you talk about some of the knock on effects?

Lizzie Guyton:

Well, as mentioned, there are a variety of reasons that consumers and businesses are utilizing these services. It’s not only for, you know, transportation from point a to point B, but it could be even for, you know, what we consider basic services and necessities like grocery delivery, or if, you know, someone wants to get a ride to, you know, a local or a Walmart, they could be using ride share. If they don’t have the ability to take a bus or take a train, or they don’t have access to a car. And if that’s something that people are relying on now, and then that service is disrupted either because there’s not as much availability, it becomes too expensive. Or it just becomes a major hassle then that option’s eliminated and people would have to figure out other mobility solutions. And there are certainly different parts of the Commonwealth where that could be more challenging than others, but, you know, a as we’ve sort of come out of the pandemic and all of the ups and downs of the economy, I would say one things for sure, if you’re driving for one of these services or you’re using one of these services you’re probably not gonna be happy if those options are taken away from you for a variety of reasons because of a change, you know, that politicians make, or that is pushed by some of these big labor labor groups.

Lizzie Guyton:

And these are services that we sh should be protected, not only for the drivers and their flexibility and their ability to keep working, but also to make sure that there’s not disruptions to our communities and our small businesses who, you know, have already gone through a lot over the past couple of years. And wouldn’t wanna see some of these services eliminated

Joe Selvaggi:

Indeed. You know, we, you and I, perhaps our listeners might be thinking, well, this is speculation, but actually there’s quite a bit of research on the effect of drivers on communities in, in other states, in other areas that there’s a knock on effect of flourishing that correlates with ride share infiltration or prevalence share with our listeners. I know we, there were similar questions in California, but some of your research on what happens when a community that has ride shares in it, what, what is the general sense of, of the, the knock on benefits besides people being able to get from a, to B?

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah, it’s a great question, Joe. And I, I think you’re referring to study that was done recently that showed that actually when there are ride share and delivery services available in communities, it actually ends up positively contributing to the economic impact and is very supportive for actually new, small businesses to open and people to take new entrepreneurial opportunities. And there’s, there’s evidence that shows that economic activity actually increases when these services are available because they provide the mobility and the opportunity and some support that may not otherwise exist.

Joe Selvaggi:

Yeah. I wanna go a little bit deeper on that. I, I think you didn’t do a good service to you know, what I, what I teased out of the data, which is a lot of the entrepreneurs, the way that these drivers empower entrepreneurship is that in order to become an entrepreneur, you need to, to take a chance and you need to have a safety net and for a lot of low income people, they don’t have such a safety net and their income from driving is that safety net. So if you wanna start a new business and you’re not sure you’re gonna be able to pay the bills with that new business driving is a great way to, in a sense, supplement your income until you get your business off the ground. So I think some of our listeners may come from wealthy backgrounds, wealthy families, who in a sense serve as their safety net. If you come from a less privileged background, if you’re a driver, you, you create your own safety net, you in a sense, say if, if my if the risk I’m taking on this new business, doesn’t work out, I can still pay, feed my family with my, my driving app. But is that how you, in a sense saw the data? Do, do, do you, did you see what I saw in there?

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah, I think there’s a lot of different scenarios where these apps are very supportive and helpful for individuals and families. And, you know, that’s part of the, the beauty of the way that these ride share services and delivery services are utilized is there’s really something for everybody. And depending on what your needs are, the flexibility allows everybody to participate, you know, drive when they want for as long as they want. And, you know, in a concentrated amount of time, if they want, you know, to your point if somebody is working on starting, you know, their own business, or they have another priority, and they’re picking up extra hours driving in, in the meantime, we do see that you also have students who may be, you know full time and looking to pay student loans, or to have extra spending money in their pocket.

Lizzie Guyton:

They can drive around their class schedule and they can find a quick way to, you know, put extra money in their pocket. And again, you know, they’re averaging about $26 an hour in Massachusetts, right now they’re keeping 100% of their tips. And it’s, it’s on their time and it’s within their control. So it does provide more opportunities, not only for the individuals, it also provides opportunities for businesses. You know, there may be a business that’s getting started up that is doing food delivery, but they can’t afford, or don’t wanna take on the ex expense of a driver to, to deliver their product. So maybe they’re, you know, utilizing the you know, DoorDash or Instacart to, to get Uber eats, to get their goods out to people. And that’s something that they can tap into versus, you know, not having to do it all in their own. So I think it can be used, you know, kind of on both sides of the ball and give people a lot of opportunities to, to earn that extra money and to earn it on their own time.

Joe Selvaggi:

Lizzie, we are here in Massachusetts. We like to think of ourselves as leading the way on these issues, but actually there have been other states who have considered this question in a ballot or proposition idea. We, we talk a lot about California on this podcast. This question had been put before the voters in California in the past. How did it go there? How did voters a and the results happen there?

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah, so California it was called prop 22. It was a very similar ballot question that was before the voters in 2020 and it passed. And so far the, the response from drivers has been overwhelmingly positive about how passage of prop 22 has positively impacted their experiences drivers over 88% are in support of that passing and reporting. I think about 75% have said that their earnings have actually increased since prop 22 has passed. And an overwhelming majority of drivers in California would also recommend that other states take up similar measures for their drivers because it’s been really positive for their experience.

Joe Selvaggi:

So the first time this has been considered in another deep blue state the driver’s preferences prevailed and in the aftermath, everybody was happy. Is, is that a fair way to characterize it?

Lizzie Guyton:

A vast majority of drivers have said it’s been good for them, and they’ve seen their earnings go go up and that they would recommend it to others. So by my count, that is a pretty good report card.

Joe Selvaggi:

All right, we’re getting close to the end of our time together. And I you know, before we you know, dispense with this topic, there are you know, I’ve already seen some pretty persuasive ads advocating for the employee designation of drivers. One being that if I am a independent contractor and God forbid, I get in some sort of accident that if I were an employee, I would be my, my passenger would have some rights that the independent contractors rider would not have. In other words it’s safer for a rider to ride in an employee’s car than in a independent contractor’s car. Is there any merit to this concern or is this a lot of unfortunate campaign misinformation?

Lizzie Guyton:

Yeah, unfortunately I think that, that is very much part of the misinformation campaign that our opponents are pushing. The reality is, is that the ballot question would actually provide more protections and more liability and required trainings for drivers that would provide more consumer protections. And in general in the state of Massachusetts, there are very stringent policies for ride share and to make sure that these services are provided to protect the driver and the riders.

Joe Selvaggi:

So the there’s no real sort of risk or insurance implications of changing the designation to employee or remaining as an independent contractor.

Lizzie Guyton:

No, in fact, the legislation specifically provides more occupational insurance.

Joe Selvaggi:

Wonderful. so our listeners are now their, their curiosities peak. They’ve got to November to, to figure out what they prefer or what they want. I’m sure they’re interested in some of these studies we’ve mentioned. So I wanna give them an opportunity to find that, not just you know, what you’ve said, but also if they want to dive deep into the research that supports what you’ve said, where can our listeners go and learn more about this ballot <affirmative>

Lizzie Guyton:

People can go to yes, for mass drivers.org, and they can find a lot of information about the campaign, including the text of the ballot question, including a lot of our different fact sheets information from drivers about why they’re supporting this campaign and any study that you will hear the campaign talk about, you know, publicly or you’ll see in advertisements those links are made available for transparency, for voters, understanding that this is a complicated issue with a lot of moving pieces. It’s important that the public has the opportunity to read these documents for themselves form their own opinions and, and know that the information that the campaign’s talking about is all sourced in publicly available information.

Joe Selvaggi:

Wonderful. Well, again, our, our listeners love information, so I’m sure you’ll get some new visitors and let’s hope we get a an informed outcome in, in November. So thank you for joining me today on Hubwonk, Lizzie. You’ve been a terrific guest. Thank you.

Lizzie Guyton:

Thanks, Joe. Appreciate it.

Joe Selvaggi:

This has been another episode of Hubwonk, a podcast of Pioneer Institute. If you enjoy today’s episode, there are several ways to support Hubwonk and Pioneer Institute. It would be easier for you and better for us. If you subscribe to hub won on your iTunes podcaster, if you wanna make it easier for others to find Hubwonk, it would be great. If you offer a five star rating or a favorable review, we’re always grateful. If you wanna share Hubwonk, with friends, if you have ideas or comments or suggestions for me about future episode topics, you’re welcome to email me at Hubwonk@pioneerinstitute.org. Please join me next week for a new episode of hubwonk.

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