Albany sheriff doesn't want gig workers classified as employees

Debates on how to classify ride share drivers are in full swing.
Debates on how to classify ride share drivers are in full swing.
Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock
Debates on how to classify ride share drivers are in full swing.

Albany sheriff doesn't want gig workers classified as employees

The debate over whether Uber drivers and delivery cyclists should be classified as independent contractors is in full swing.
February 5, 2020

The employment status of gig workers has been an issue on the state Legislature’s back burner for some time, but the debate over whether Uber drivers and Postmates delivery cyclists should be classified as employees or independent contractors is now in full swing, following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inclusion of the issue in his state budget address last month.

Now, new influential parties are jumping into the fray. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple will partner with the Flexible Work for New York coalition – a group that includes app-based companies Uber and Lyft, as well as the tech industry associations TechNet and Tech:NYC – to support reforms that wouldn’t go as far as reclassifying workers as employees.

“Drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have been instrumental in reducing drunk-driving deaths, providing peace of mind to families across New York State who feel confident their loved ones will come home safely,” Christina Fisher, executive director of TechNet for New York and a member of the coalition, said in a statement. The coalition has previously voiced support for expanding existing programs like New York’s Black Car Fund to provide gig workers benefits without classifying them as employees. Companies like Uber and Postmates have sued against a new law in California that classifies most gig workers as employees, arguing that their workers value flexibility and the law will interfere with their ability to set their own hours.

On the other side of the debate is the NY Do It Right Employment Classification Test (DIRECT) coalition, whose members include labor groups and advocates – like the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and 32BJ SEIU – pushing for gig workers to be classified as employees. State Senate leaders are expected to cover the issue during a Wednesday hearing on workforce development.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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