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Seattle City Council Votes To Protect Gig Workers

Seattle City Council has unanimously passed a policy to create protections for gig workers who deliver meals, groceries and packages, and some on-demand service providers.

According to the council, many app-based workers are underpaid, and sometimes after expenses (mileage, vehicle maintenance, insurance and other business expenses) workers may even lose money on a job.  It’s long past time that these workers receive Seattle’s minimum wage plus compensation for business expenses including the miles they travel as part of their jobs.

The policy would:

  • Set a minimum wage that accounts for expenses incurred by workers; tips come on top of the wage;
  • Create transparency by requiring apps to share information up-front about pay rates, tips, and details of each job;
  • Prevent companies from penalising workers based on the shifts and jobs that they accept.

The policy excludes Seattle-based Rover, a pet-sitting and walking service, and freelance-labour app TaskRabbit.  The council voted to continue working on policies to address those services.

The measure now goes to Mayor Bruce Harrell, to sign the bill.  “Gig workers deserve a fair shake and a fair wage. We’re committed to making Seattle an affordable city where workers can thrive,” Harrell said by email.

Council member Lisa Herbold, one of the sponsors of the policy, said: “Companies can get away with offering poor quality, unsafe jobs where workers have virtually zero legal protections on the job because for so many workers, there is simply no alternative.  Far from offering economic opportunity, this business model deepens the desperation of underpaid Black, Latinx and other workers of colour who have been shunted to the bottom of the economy.”

 

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