Opinion » Guest Opinion

In support of flexibility, and more

by Eilakeisha Spencer, M.Ed
Thursday Dec 30, 2021

Between taking care of my child and running the Dorchester-based Boston Lesbigay Urban Foundation, which uplifts members of the LGBTQ+ community in Boston, it can be tough to pay the bills. For the past 3 years, I have relied on the flexibility of driving with Lyft to earn additional income while I balance my personal and professional goals. I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished, both as a parent and a community leader, and grateful that the independence of rideshare was there for me when I needed it. Unfortunately, change may be coming for rideshare and delivery drivers in the form of lawsuits and court mandates that would eliminate this flexibility forever. I am joining the effort to save it.

A lawsuit currently making its way through the courts in Massachusetts would force all rideshare and delivery companies to make their drivers employees. That would mean bosses, set shifts, flat wages, requests for time off - all the things about regular jobs that just don't mesh with the demands of raising a child or running a non-profit. The politicians and special interests behind this effort say it will bring new benefits to drivers, but at the cost of our independence.

That's not a trade I am willing to make. So, I am joining thousands of other drivers, from communities across Massachusetts in supporting a ballot question that would offer the best of both options. The proposed ballot question would guarantee our continued flexibility as drivers, including our ability to make our own schedules, drive when and where we want, as little or as much as we want, whenever we want. But it would also guarantee us 120% of minimum wage, paid sick time, health care stipends, and more.

Importantly for me as a parent, the ballot question would automatically enroll drivers in the state's Paid Family & Medical Leave program - just the same as any other employee in Massachusetts. And importantly for me as an advocate, the question would protect drivers from discrimination based upon race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, genetic information, ancestry, status as a veteran, pregnancy, or sexual orientation.

With the flexibility of rideshare, I put myself through school to earn a Master's in Mental Health; I pay for those unexpected parental expenses; I work every day on the ground and in communities to ensure that Massachusetts is a safe place for LGBTQ+ individuals to live and thrive. If the courts take away my flexibility to drive, to earn - none of this will be possible for me. The ballot question will protect me and other drivers, and ensure that our options are not being stripped away without our input

I urge Massachusetts voters to join me in supporting this ballot initiative and stand with thousands of people like me who rely on the flexibility that driving provides.

Boston Lesbigay Urban Foundation Inc.