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Director of Black Car Fund Wants Similar Comp Program for Other Gig Workers

  • State: New York
  • Topic: NORTH
  • - Average time spent on item: 6 minutes
  • - Popular with: Legal

The head of New York's Black Car Fund and a city official are urging state lawmakers to model gig-economy workers' compensation and health benefits on the fund's program.

Ira Goldstein

Ira Goldstein

In a guest column in the New York Daily News, Ira Goldstein, executive director of the Black Car Fund, and Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president, said the Legislature should extend the fund's well-regarded approach to freelancers and other independent contractors, especially during the grip of the coronavirus outbreak.

While bills that would require a strict, California-like employment test for New York employers have seen little action in the New York Legislature, “there’s something that Albany can do today: move to create Black Car Fund-style benefits for other independent workers now by adding surcharges on other services,” the officials wrote.

They explained that the Black Car Fund, which covers limousine, Uber, Lyft and other independent drivers, charges riders a small surcharge, which funds the benefits program. The 21-year-old fund also provides death benefits for surviving family, along with wellness classes, defensive driving courses, free vision care and telemedicine services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine is proving crucial in keeping sick workers away from crowded waiting rooms. Goldstein and Adams quoted a driver who was able to access a doctor through her smartphone. The doctor diagnosed her symptoms and recommended treatment.

“In particular, we should be covering those gig economy workers who are most likely to come in contact with other people as they do their jobs, such as the delivery workers we are relying on even more now than before,” the officials wrote. “Freelancers, too, should get state-mandated coverage.”

A workers' comp program modeled on the Black Car Fund should also expand benefits to include not just injuries but diseases and mass emergencies, the writers said.

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