‘Long-term’ app-based delivery driver guaranteed wage push gains momentum in Seattle

Apr 7, 2022, 4:34 PM


(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A coalition of app-based delivery drivers is pushing the Seattle City Council to adopt city-wide labor standards and minimum wage thresholds for their industry.

The legislation builds on minimum wage protections passed by the council in 2020, which established a $16.39 an hour minimum wage for rideshare drivers, paying out $0.56 per minute and $1.33 per mile driven while transporting passengers. In practice, this new bill would set a $17.27 an hour minimum wage for most app-based delivery and service drivers working for companies like Instacart, Uber Eats, Rover, and more, while helping cover baseline expenses.

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

Sponsored by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis, the first in a series of bills under the moniker “PayUp” is currently under consideration with the council at large.

“We need a long-term solution that holistically addresses… sub-minimum-wages [for app-based delivery drivers]…There’s no other way around it. This is why PayUp is so important,” Herbold said Thursday.

The new legislation would take into account what it considers “engaged time” and “engaged miles.” In practice, this would mean that drivers are paid for all aspects of labor involved in ferrying deliveries to and from a pickup as soon as an order is accepted.

The bill would also require employers to provide offer information, electronic receipts, and company records to employees to increase transparency around effective wages.

“Working as independent contractors, we cover all our own costs. We need to… account for all of our time, mileage, and other costs to ensure we earn minimum wage. Workers should not be responsible for the expenses required to do the job,” said Michael Pullman, a driver with DoorDash.

“We cover the cost of gas, maintaining our vehicles, we all have our own payroll taxes. We’re on the hook if we get injured or need a big car repair … it means, for workers, sub-minimum wages and zero protections.”

Herbold frames PayUp as the latest in a series of catch-up attempts by local government to adapt labor laws to an economy that has been turned on its head by the tech industry and the pandemic. Current estimates put the number of gig-workers in the Seattle area at 40,000, a number that has increased “exponentially” since the pandemic.

“We’ve all been working in the city … since 2012 to strengthen local labor law protections, from paid sick and safe time in 2012 to the Seattle minimum wage, to secure scheduling in 2016,” Herbold said in a news conference Thursday.

“But the explosive growth of the gig economy… undermines those hard-fought protections because the number of workers in the gig economy is increasing exponentially. This is a way to avoid all of the great labor laws that we’ve been fighting for over a decade.”

Uber notes that a pay-hike for its drivers would increase the costs associated with the user experience of their platform, resulting in fewer orders and less demand for the service.

“The unintended consequences of taking away access to work and stifling income for small businesses is not the answer. We look forward to talking with the City about how best to support delivery drivers without unintended consequences that could hurt restaurants and customers,” an Uber spokesperson wrote in a statement.

Thursday’s announcement was pitched as the culmination of “stakeholder meetings” with app-based delivery companies ranging from DoorDash to UberEats. The council plans to review the legislation in committee on April 12.

MyNorthwest reporter Nick Bowman contributed to this report

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