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Seattle council approves measure giving minimum wage to Lyft, Uber drivers

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, guaranteeing minimum wage for rideshare drivers with companies like Uber and Lyft.

Some Seattle rideshare drivers worried Durkan proposal could limit flexibility

Wages for drivers will start at the city’s standard minimum wage baseline of $16.39 an hour, paying out $0.56 per minute and $1.33 per mile driven while transporting passengers.

“Despite the economic challenges our City faces right now, Seattle will continue to be a national leader in ensuring our workers are treated fairly,” Mayor Durkan said in a written release. “The pandemic has exposed the fault lines in our systems of worker protections, leaving many front line workers like gig workers without a safety net. It is more important than ever that we add to the economic resilience of our community of drivers.”

The measure had faced strong opposition from both Uber and Lyft, as well as gig worker nonprofit Drive Forward, which expressed concerns that companies will have to make up for the added wages by limiting the total amount of drivers out on the road at any given time.

“We would like to see the City of Seattle not just copycat New York, which is an entirely different market from Seattle,” Drive Forward CEO Michael Wolfe said in late August. “They should be innovative, they should be thinking of new ways to address these issues.”

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In its support for the legislation, Durkan’s office noted that a large swathe of Uber and Lyft drivers in King County are “disproportionately low income and predominantly from immigrant and refugee communities.”

“This ordinance is part of Seattle’s commitment to address the disparate access to economic opportunity experienced by these communities,” a release from the mayor’s office reads.

The measure goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and will be enforced by the city’s Office of Labor Standards.

KIRO Radio’s Nicole Jennings contributed to this report.

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