Lyft makes largest one-time political donation in Massachusetts history, fueling gig worker ballot fight

From The Boston Globe, Matt Stout and John Hilliard report that Lyft has made a $14 million contribution to the ballot question that would allow gig drivers to be indepenent contractors. Matt and John write:

The coalition pushing petitions that could reshape how gig economy workers are classified in Massachusetts took in the single largest political donation in state history last month, helping fund a phalanx of consultants, pollsters, and signature gatherers driving the questions toward the ballot.

The rideshare giant Lyft gave a whopping $14.4 million to a committee supporting the petitions, most of which came in a $13 million donation on Dec. 30, newly released records show. The single contribution is the highest the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance has ever listed in an online database that tracks reporteddonations to campaigns, ballot question coalitions, or other political committees regulated under state law.

It made up the bulk of the $17.8 million in donations and in-kind contributions the tech-backed ballot question committee reported taking since its launch in early August.

The vast sums underscore what was long expected: The debate over whether rideshare drivers, DoorDash delivery people, and others should be classified as independent contractors or employees is drawing millions of dollars from the same companies that prevailed with votersin a costly ballot fight in California in 2020.

Separate from the ballot petitions, Attorney General Maura Healey is suing Uber and Lyft over the same issue. Her office argued that the tech giants are currently breaking the law by failing to classify drivers as employees.

The labor-backed committee opposing the questions, known as the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, has yet to file a report detailing its contributions and spending for the entire year.

But its leaders seized on the opponents’ filing, framing it as an attempt to “buy a giant loophole” in state law.

“Massachusetts is not for sale,” said Steve Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL–CIO, one of the labor groups opposing the measures. The labor-backed committee reported raising $464,500 within two months earlier last year, but Tolman said it would be a challenge for opponents of the ballot measures to match its supporters’ donations.

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