Seattle considers ‘Pay Up’ policy to increase wages for gig workers
Seattle City Council members are considering minimum pay rates for app-based delivery drivers, opening up the floor for public comment to hear both sides of the debate on the pending legislation.
The city and the state already have minimum standards in place for ride-share drivers like Uber and Lyft. The Pay Up legislation expands that top set minimum pay and per-mile standards for those working for companies like Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Instacart.
Drivers have stated over recent years that app-based delivery companies are improving their bottom line by exploiting a loophole in labor laws and classifying drivers as independent contractors. There are more than 40,000 gig workers in Seattle, according to 2021 reports from the Seattle Jobs Initiative.
If the Pay-Up legislation passes, it would the first of its kind in the nation.
“The council should pause so they can study and fully understand the impact on the community before it’s passed,” said Anna Powell, the Manager of Government Relations for the northwest branch of DoorDash. “This may cut $32 million in aggregate earnings due to decline in order volume. The fact is, our dashers earn, on average, $28 an hour. An average dasher works less than 10 hours a week and does not rely on the platform as their only source of income.”
DoorDash reported revenue at $4.89 billion in 2021 which is up 69% from 2020, according to revenue data. Uber Eats reported $5.8 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2021. Instacart’s 2021 revenue grew 10% year-over-year to $1.65 billion. The company’s valuation is $24 billion, up from $17.7 billion a few months prior.
“The base pay isn’t enough for a livable wage,” said Shelby Hansen, a gig worker for Rover. “Forcing people to accept low wages is another way to disenfranchise people and force them into poverty, and poverty affects us all.”
A representative of Seattle Restaurants United (SRU) shared the same sentiment, stating “gig workers need protection too.” SRU is a coalition of 240 local bars and restaurants in Seattle. It was created in 2020 to help restaurant owners and operators stay in business during the pandemic.
“The sharing economy has provided critical, flexible work opportunities for millions of Americans and thousands right here in Seattle,” said Justin Hyer, the Director of Government Affairs for Shipt. “This ordinance ultimately drives down flexible earning opportunities available for them. There have been no attempts to study the economic impacts of this measure which risks economic uncertainty and risks flexible opportunities shoppers in Seattle value.”
The city council will meet again over Pay Up legislation May 24 as council members will discuss the amendments they want to bring forward.