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Fight coming over part-time, contract, or ‘gig’ workers in New York

If you have ever ordered an Uber or a Lyft on your phone, or had someone deliver you food through an app, you have participated in what’s known as the gig economy. Now, state lawmakers want to bolster labor rights for those workers.

Next year, a big debate in Albany could center around how to classify workers who drive Ubers, work flexible hours as handymen, or deliver packages. Those jobs and others are part of what’s known as the on-demand or gig economy.

Richard Blum, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, says those workers should be treated like workers in more traditional jobs.

“For the most part these workers are in fact employees,” Blum said. “They’re not in business for themselves and they should be entitled to the basic protections of labor law.”

In the post-World War II era, jobs in the U.S. have traditionally come with health insurance, worker’s compensation, and in some cases the ability to collectively bargain. That’s not the case with many gig economy jobs so state lawmakers want to tackle how to classify these workers.

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