78 Groups Urge Congress to Extend Labor Protections to Millions of App-Based Workers

Washington, DC—The National Employment Law Project, along with 77 other signatory organizations, including racial justice advocates, women’s movement leaders, unions, tech workers, immigrants’ rights organizations, and workers’ rights organizations, submitted a letter to the leadership of the 117th Congress today, calling on members of Congress to put an end to the exclusion of millions of workers in the app-based economy from essential labor protections.

“Across the country, millions of workers hired and managed by companies via internet apps are deprived of basic labor protections that many of us take for granted,” said Brian Chen, staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project. “They include Uber drivers, Instacart and DoorDash delivery workers, and Handy home service workers, just to name a few. Because their employers insist on unilaterally and wrongly calling them independent contractors, these workers don’t get minimum wage protections, overtime pay, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, state disability insurance, or access to federal protections from discrimination, including sex harassment.”

The letter urges Congress to reject exclusionary models like California’s Proposition 22, including a federal “third way” classification for app-based workers that would set a dangerous precedent that some workers are less entitled to basic federal protections.

“A federal framework for fewer workplace protections would invite all industries to shift their work to an app-based or ‘gig’ model, threatening the security and stability that work should provide all people. Already, we’ve seen some employers in health care, retail, and hospitality shift to managing their workers through a digital app or outsourcing them through temp and staffing firms, which allows them to escape basic employer obligations. A new federal classification scheme would break open the dam, incentivizing entire industries to ‘gig out’ jobs that once provided middle-class prosperity,” said Chen.

“The solution is to expand access to our federal employment protections, not to create arbitrary partitions that exclude people who work for large corporations through a digital app. Rather than inventing an industry-defined category of substandard rights, we need to ensure that all workers can access the benefits and protections of our labor and employment laws,” said Chen.

Read the full letter here.

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