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Morning Briefs: Driver Q In Pole Position | Pension Fund Status .: The State House News Service

Morning Briefs: Driver Q In Pole Position | Pension Fund Status

Poll Of Drivers Shows Support For Ballot Question
A new poll of drivers with app-based services like Uber and Lyft found overwhelming support for a ballot question that would allow them to remain independent contractors and access some additional employment benefits. The companies are pushing a November initiative petition that ensures they can continue to classify their drivers as independent contractors and not employees. If passed, drivers would be guaranteed a wage floor for the time they're engaged with customers and have access to paid family and medical leave and accrued sick time. Eighty-one percent of drivers surveyed said they would vote yes, while 10 percent said they would vote no, according to a polling memo shared with the News Service. The survey touched 406 randomly selected drivers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart between Jan. 27 and Feb. 4. It was conducted by Beacon Research on behalf of Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts Drivers, the committee behind the ballot initiative. "I think it's clear that drivers are driving for the independence of it and freedom it allows them, so I wasn't too surprised by these findings," said Beacon Research's Chris Anderson, who also happens to be Attorney General Maura Healey's pollster. Healey has sued Uber and Lyft to force them to classify their drivers as employees under Massachusetts labor laws, which would afford them a number of wage, benefit and employment protections not currently available. The survey told drivers that if passed the question would classify drivers for app-based companies as "independent contractors" rather than employees and establish new benefits and protections. Women, drivers of color, those without college degrees and parents of school-aged children were mostly likely to support the measure. Given the choice between being an independent contractor or an employee, 71 percent said contractor and 27 percent said employee. Those surveyed were contacted from a pool of about 160,000 drivers active on one of the platforms. "I expect a lot of voters will be taking their cues from drivers. People who are getting rides and deliveries may ask their drivers, so I think drivers' positions will probably be pretty important in the long run," Anderson said. - Matt Murphy/SHNS

Pension Fund Gains Added $70 Billion Over 10 Years
The state's pension fund has gained $70.6 billion over the past decade, exceeding its targets by $12 billion after posting the fourth largest annual gain in its history in 2021, fund managers reported on Thursday. Pension Reserve Investment Management Executive Director Michael Trotsky has previously shared that the fund, which pays retirement benefits to state employees and teachers, grew by 20.1 percent after fees in 2021, for a gain of $17.4 billion, and closed the year at a record high $104.3 billion. Trotsky told the PRIM Board Thursday that its three-year, five-year and 10-year returns of 16.1 percent, 12.4 percent and 10.5 percent all beat the state's established target return rate of 7 percent. "We have a saying around the halls of PRIM: to the extent PRIM is successful, we are the taxpayers' friend – not to mention the retirees’ friend," Trotsky said. Despite the gains, the pension fund won't be fully funded until 2040, based on current projections. Gov. Charlie Baker's fiscal year 2023 budget calls for a transfer of $3.744 billion to the pension fund to maintain the schedule, and to make a supplemental transfer of $250 million to a reserve fund that could either speed up full-funding or lower required deposits in future years. - Matt Murphy/SHNS


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