A nascent political action committee, Illinoisans for Independent Work, is being bankrolled by rideshare giant Lyft, with one of the Bay Area-based company’s top executives at the helm— signaling a potential expansion of efforts to carve out independent contractor status for their drivers following a win at the ballot box in California.
According to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, the Illinoisans for Independent Work committee was established in late June 2020, and the Reform for Illinois’ Sunshine Database of political contributions lists the committee as a super PAC. While the committee focuses on Illinois and its gig economy, it is based in Sausalito, California.
More precisely, the committee’s listed address is the office of California-based boutique law firm Politicom Law LLP, which specializes in political compliance law and was cofounded by the committee’s treasurer Darrin Lim. The BOE website also states that the chairperson of Illinoisans for Independent Work is Jordan Markwith, the head of Lyft’s external affairs. Markwith, Lim, and Illinoisans for Independent Work did not respond to interview requests from the Reader.
Lyft said in a statement provided to the Reader that the company “is ready to work with Illinois policymakers and labor leaders to keep drivers earning during this pandemic. Drivers want both independence and benefits, like the policy that was supported in a landslide by California voters, and we’ll continue to fight for them.”
Social media ads for the committee have also appeared recently, quoting so-called gig workers touting the benefits of independent work. In one such ad, a woman, named Crystal, is quoted as saying she “never wants to work for anyone else ever again.”
This new effort comes weeks after Lyft, Uber, and other gig economy companies successfully funded the Proposition 22 ballot measure in California that now allows the companies to classify workers in the state as independent contractors instead of employees. Classifying workers as contractors versus employees allows the companies to dodge millions of dollars in costs for health insurance, overtime pay and workers’ compensation, and other benefits afforded to employees.
Workers outside of the gig economy who are typically exempt from minimum wage, overtime, and paid leave, have also been caught up in this fight. Gig companies have long said that classifying workers as independent contractors provides the flexibility that makes gig work possible, but activists say that flexibility can still be afforded to benefit-wielding employees…
Read the full story at Lyft won big in California. Now it’s set its sights on Illinois. | Feature | Chicago Reader