Seattle Unions Caution City on Repealing Gig Worker Minimum Wage

April 10, 2024

20 unions are demanding to stop current attempts to repeal or revise the Seattle App-Based Worker Minimum Pay Law

Seattle, WA – On Tuesday, MLK Labor issued a letter addressed to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council calling on them to stop attempts by app corporations and led by Council President Sara Nelson to roll back Seattle’s new App-Based Worker Minimum Pay Law (the #PayUp ordinance).

The 20 unions, representing thousands of unionized workers in Seattle, signed the letter, citing a deep concern about the active effort to eliminate protections for app-based “gig” workers. The law, which was unanimously adopted by the Seattle City Council and signed into law by the Mayor in 2022, went into effect in January of 2024. It requires app-based delivery companies to comply with Seattle’s minimum wage standard and workplace protections granting workers greater transparency into their work and pay.

After years of getting feedback from stakeholders, gig workers won the ordinance establishing a requirement that workers earn Seattle’s minimum wage. Workers must be paid the minimum wage plus the cost of mileage and other basic expenses required to complete the work, and be compensated for all time worked. The law also protects workers’ ability to choose or reject jobs without penalty, receive all tips in full, and receive up-front information that includes a guaranteed minimum of what the job or block of work will pay.

On January 13, when the PayUp ordinance took effect, several major app corporations like DoorDash, UberEats, and Instacart immediately implemented fees in excess of $5, on top of existing service and delivery fees. They also launched a coordinated campaign and lobbying effort to misplace blame for the fees on the law, and have used anti-worker messaging and price-gouging tactics on consumers both within and outside of Seattle to generate opposition and resentment of living wage laws.

On March 28, Seattle City Council President Sara Nelson (who voted in favor of the ordinance when it passed) announced amendment legislation that would gut the minimum wage ordinance. The amendment was drafted with only corporate stakeholders and the Uber-funded, Uber-run group, Drive Forward. Through a rushed, closed-door process that has taken place less than two months after the implementation of the #PayUp gig worker minimum wage law, Council President Nelson has allowed the app corporations to present ‘solutions’ to a problem they created by imposing massive new fees on customers.

With this letter to city officials, MLK Labor voices adamant opposition to ushering through a rollback of minimum wage for low-wage workers, especially through a process that excludes those very workers. In an industry where most workers come from immigrant and refugee communities or are people doing multiple jobs to make ends meet, workers deserve more protections, not fewer – and when it comes to policymaking, workers always deserve a seat at the table.

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