On-Demand Industry Launches Coalition

Companies that provide on-demand services through apps like Uber and DoorDash have formed a coalition ahead of a likely debate in Albany over regulations for the sector. 

The coalition, set to be announced on Monday, includes companies Lyft, Uber, Instacart, Postmates and DoorDash as well as advocacy organizations like the NAACP New York Conferene and business organizations The Long Island Association and the Business Council. 

The alliance comes amid efforts to regulate the industry in New York and amid concerns from lawmakers the companies have taken advantage of its workforce in what’s known informally as the “gig economy.”

“It’s simple. Gig economy workers want to be recognized for the nature of their work, and their contributions to the success of local economies, while having lawmakers understand that they should not be forced into a narrow employment classification,” said Business Council President Heather Briccetti.

“These workers have made it clear, they enjoy their work flexibility that is proving to be valuable during a time when incomes mean so much. State lawmakers have a great opportunity to listen and support this particular sector of working class New Yorkers.”

The coalition could moving head long into a clash with influential labor organizations, including the New York AFL-CIO, which last week called for more oversight of the industry and protections for workers.

Concerns over on-demand employment have also risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber, for instance, has urged its drivers be vaccinated in an early phase of distribution. 

California in November approved a ballot proposition that exempts on-demand service firms or gig companies from classifying their workers as employees.

Gig economy companies have argued their services — someone using an app to hail a ride or have food delivered from a local restaurant — provides a schedule more amendable to working people with families. 

“This type of flexible work provides a critical lifeline to so many New Yorkers, including communities of color, which are disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn,” said Rev. Kirsten John Foy, president of the Arc of Justice Foundation and a founding member of the coalition. “We hope New York leaders will work together to ensure these workers gain new protections and benefits while keeping the independence they overwhelmingly want. If we all come together, we can achieve a workable solution.”

The coalition, known as the New York Coalition for Independent Work, has also pointed to polling data that found most workers have wanted remain essentially independent contractors.

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