(Bloomberg) -- With Massachusetts shaping up to be the next battleground over rights and classification for gig workers, a labor group representing Uber and Lyft drivers is stepping up fundraising and issuing a nonfungible token depicting the gig companies as a giant rat to draw attention to their cause.
The NFT, offered by Massachusetts Drivers United, shows drivers and allies holding mallets over a map of the U.S. in a game of whack-a-mole, where new state propositions pop up across the country. The rodent, labeled Big Gig, tunnels underneath the game board. It’s intended to symbolize “a crusade to roll back worker rights” by delivery and ride-hailing companies such as DoorDash Inc., Instacart Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., the labor group’s executive director, Henry De Groot, said in an interview.
“Uber, Lyft, and their peers have used technology to skirt labor laws and deny app workers basic protections and benefits,” De Groot said. “We’re inviting the crypto community to wage a campaign against the billionaires that control Big Gig.”
The labor group will mint 50 copies of the NFT using the blockchain platform Polygon PoS priced at $200 worth of Ether. The tokens will have a built-in royalty of 10%, which will provide continued funding as they’re bought and sold. MDU hopes to raise at least $10,000 to ramp up outreach efforts.
Gig companies bankrolled a $200 million campaign in 2020 to pass Proposition 22 in California, which exempted them from a state labor law making it harder to claim workers weren’t employees. A similar initiative could soon be underway in Massachusetts after a coalition backed by gig companies proposed asking voters to place a measure on the state’s ballot in November defining workers as independent contractors rather than regular employees.
In August, a California judge ruled that Proposition 22 was unconstitutional. The state will defend the ballot measure in an appellate court this year.
The MDU labor group is hoping to harness the principles underpinning cryptocurrency, like decentralization and transparency, to gain momentum ahead of the Massachusetts vote. “We are leveraging technology to fight back,” De Groot said.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.