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Seattle proposes minimum wage for DoorDash, Rover and other gig workers

That’s less than Seattle’s minimum wage of $17.27 among major employers. Some delivery drivers for platforms like DoorDash fare much worse, sometimes making just a few dollars per delivery, according to Working Washington, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on improving salaries and conditions of low-wage workers.

Noir is part of a coalition of gig workers partnering with Working Washington to push the city to pass new regulations that would guarantee a minimum wage, as well as wage transparency, flexible hours and other protections. The group estimates that there are at least 40,000 app-based gig workers doing work in Seattle every year, not counting Uber and Lyft drivers.

If passed, the law will apply to delivery drivers on Door Dash, Instacart, UberEats and others, as well as workers who provide services through TaskRabbit, Rover and similar apps. The proposed policy would not apply to Uber and Lyft drivers, which are covered by Seattle’s 2020 Fair Share Act and similar state law passed in the 2022 legislative session.

Seattle City Council members Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis introduced the bill at the April 12 Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting.

“No one should be working for less than minimum wage in Seattle in 2022,” Working Washington executive director Danielle Alvarado said at the committee meeting.

The Pay Up policy would accomplish this by requiring app companies to pay delivery drivers a per-minute, per-mile rate that begins when they accept a job offer and ends when the job is completed. Base rates are tied to the city’s minimum wage of $17.27 and the standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service.

These base rates are then multiplied by an “associated cost” factor intended to offset certain business expenses, such as wear and tear on vehicles and the time needed to log in and accept jobs, take breaks during the day , take care of administrative work, etc. on.

Wei Lin is a delivery driver for Gopuff, a snack and liquor delivery service. Lin said most of the business happened in the afternoons and nights, so he mostly worked from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week to earn enough to live on. Driving your personal vehicle to work means changing your oil every month, buying new brakes every year and refueling every other day – a particularly painful exercise with exorbitant gas prices.

Workers on apps like TaskRabbit and Rover, where the company doesn’t track mileage and hours, will have their pay set according to a slightly different formula presented to the worker before accepting a job.

In addition to addressing base pay, the proposed legislation would require companies to provide workers and customers with more information about jobs and costs. Workers would get the best estimate from companies of the time and mileage of a job, as well as the amount of work – the details that many site workers testified to are currently not always available to them. Clients would get a breakdown of their costs, including the worker’s share of the cost and the company’s share of the cost.

Finally, the proposed policy would enshrine the ability of gig workers to set their own schedules as they see fit. Companies tout the flexibility of freelance contracts as a benefit of gig work. But workers testified that the apps punish workers for turning down too many jobs by reducing the number of jobs they can get in the future or disabling their accounts.

For many workers, flexibility is a central reason for doing on-demand work. For example, Noir told Crosscut that Rover’s flexibility helps her care for her stepfather, who moved in with her after a hospital stay this winter.

The Pay Up policy would allow site workers to cancel or refuse jobs if they have a reason – including discovering job information that is materially incorrect, unforeseen obstacles to completion that arise or a good faith complaint of harassment by a customer – without retaliation from the companies.

Public testimony at the April 12 committee meeting was split roughly 50-50 between those for and against Pay Up. Many construction workers testifying in favor of Pay Up spoke of their low wages and difficult working conditions, especially during the pandemic. Those against the bill included representatives from Instacart, Shipt and Uber, as well as industry groups such as the Washington Technology Industry Association, TechNet and the Washington Coalition for Independent Work, as well as the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. A DoorDash driver, Brian Rodriguez, spoke out against the bill, fearing it could accidentally harm the delivery driver’s job.

Opponents have warned that an increase in worker compensation would likely lead to higher costs for customers, which would reduce demand for services and job opportunities for gig workers.

“Worker earnings in the sector are very complex and, if poorly regulated, can have a negative impact on merchants, customers and workers,” said Molly Jones, vice president of public policy for the Washington Technology Industry Association. “I am concerned that this order does not take sufficient account of stakeholder consultation, learnings and data from industry partners.”

Herbold said, however, that many app companies were at the table for the 13 stakeholder meetings the city council held to help shape Pay Up policy, along with gig workers, Working Washington, members and council staff and the Seattle Office of Labor Standards.

Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda joined Herbold and Lewis in supporting the Pay Up policy. Council member Sarah Nelson dissented, echoing concerns from companies that the policy was too broad and could pose risks to the people it is meant to help.

“My issue has always been the inevitable unintended consequences on drivers, small businesses that are supported by these apps, and customers when you impose a single regulatory framework on such a wide variety of business models,” Nelson said at the meeting. of the committee.

Nelson urged his colleagues to consider delaying implementation of the policy until more studies can be conducted. Herbold said she wouldn’t.

“I’m interested in learning more about the impacts of this very, very basic standard and seeing if there are things that can be done to mitigate those impacts,” Herbold said. “But not as a precondition for legislation. Again, this is a minimum work standard that we want to extend to these workers.

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee will discuss potential amendments to the bill on April 26 and likely vote on those amendments on May 10.

This bill is the first in a series of pieces of legislation that Herbold and Lewis plan to introduce under the banner of the Pay Up policy. Future bills are expected to address bathroom access, anti-discrimination measures, background checks and other issues.

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