Seattle council to consider new gig worker protections

SEATTLE — There’s a new push to raise the pay for tens of thousands of gig workers who do things like deliver food in Seattle.

They’ve been front-line workers in the pandemic, but say, in some cases, they’re not even making minimum wage.

“We’re paid as little as two dollars a job and take on all the costs,” said Michael Pullman, who drives for DoorDash.

Seattle City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis are sponsoring a bill championed by Working Washington to set a per-minute and per-mile minimum so gig workers come away with at least minimum wage.

The PayUp proposal would also allow gig workers more flexibility to reject low-paying jobs.

Herbold said she does not expect the proposal to raise prices.

“We don’t know that prices are going to go up. These platforms are having revenues of billions of dollars a year so I wouldn’t assume that prices are going to go up,” Herbold said.

But rising prices are a big concern for organizations whose members include restaurants that have relied on deliveries to survive the pandemic.

“Prices go up, that’s always bad for business,” said Marcos Wanless of the Seattle Latino Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“That could eventually drive down demand and that could lead to less work for the subcontractors who are using these apps,” said Maya Manus of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

Heaven Rubin and George McGuire use delivery services and say they don’t mind paying more if it helps the driver earn a livable wage.

“I understand if prices go up it could affect how often people order from DoorDash, it would probably affect us, too, but I mean it’s fair for the people that are doing the service,” Rubin said.

Uber and Lyft prices rose in Seattle following a proposal that raised pay for rideshare drivers.

A city council committee considers the PayUp proposal next week.