The Spotlight on Gig Worker Safety Heats Up

April 15, 2022

On April 6, MassCOSH joined with our allies, including Massachusetts Not 4 Sale Coalition and Gig Workers Rising (GWR) for a rally and the release of an illuminating report titled Death and Corporate Irresponsibility in the Gig Economy. The 26-page, heavily footnoted report explores the hazards gig workers face on the job and efforts from Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash and others to shield their companies from any responsibility for their employees’ health and safety. 

The report identified over 50 accounts of app-based workers in the United States being murdered on the job in the last five years, including two in Massachusetts. Speakers at the rally also noted that gig workers experience uncountable cases of unsafe work every day, including carjackings, bike theft, verbal abuse, physical harassment and assault, and sexual assault. GWR reports that forcing workers to assume unjust risks is a feature, not a bug, of the business model that includes many other abuses. We have seen the impact here in Massachusetts. Three gig workers, Antawani Wright-Davis, Raymond Holloway Creighton, and Henry Miller have been killed on the job in Massachusetts in the last five years.

A Massachusetts ballot question has been proposed by the app corporations regarding the employment and benefit status of gig drivers during this November’s elections. If passed, the ballot initiative would declare app-based drivers to be independent contractors, not employees and continue to allow these workers to experience dangerous working conditions and lack of access to workers’ compensation benefits.

“We cannot let [gig corporations] do to us what sadly has happened in California,” remarked MassCOSH Director of Policy and Programs Al Vega to media and supporters at the rally. “So this fall, we must ensure by voting against this ballot initiative that we send a clear message to workers that they will be protected and treated like the essential workers and employees big tech companies depend on. So let’s make sure they play by the rules and follow and not change existing laws here in Massachusetts that make it less safe for workers and the general public.”