March 19, 2021
Connecticut lawmakers introduced legislation that would provide gig workers with bargaining rights while allowing them to maintain independent contractor status.
The proposed law would create a sectoral bargaining system for gig workers and create minimum levels of benefits such as health care and minimum wages, for participants as part of required bargaining. The bill was spearheaded by a gig worker guild funded by Uber and Lyft, but the companies themselves do not support it. Uber said that the bill “raises many concerns and creates a new, incredibly complicated process without the necessary due diligence and input from all stakeholders,” while Lyft stated that the bill could harm “the flexibility and control that the drivers currently enjoy.”
The bill comes as the issue of gig worker rights heats up both in the U.S. and abroad. Last week, the House passed the PRO Act, which would make it much harder for employers to classify workers as contractors, while the Department of Labor is currently in the process of rescinding a Trump-era DOL regulation that provided clarity to employers on the issue. Meanwhile, Uber was forced to reclassify its 70,000 U.K. drivers after the U.K. Supreme Court ruled that they are “workers” (a classification between contractor and employee) eligible for minimum wage, paid time off, and other benefits. (See a blog on the issue by Henry Eickelberg here.)
The Connecticut proposal represents another effort to find a middle ground approach to the issue of gig worker status and associated rights. Uber and Lyft have been heavily engaged in bringing their Prop 22 success in California to other states as well as to the federal level, while the Biden administration has expressed support for a strict ABC-like test for independent contractor status.
Outlook: Whether enacted or not, the Connecticut bill, like Prop 22, provides the Biden administration and other states a legislative compromise between keeping gig workers contractors and making them full time employees.