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Seattle unions fight to save gig workers’ wage ordinance

The following is from MLK Labor:

SEATTLE (March 26, 2024) — Seattle unions are fighting to save Seattle’s new minimum wage ordinance for gig-workers.

This Thursday, the Seattle City Council is expected to begin discussions around how to repeal or significantly weaken a groundbreaking 2022 ordinance which established a minimum wage for app-based gig workers. This ordinance, which went into effect less than three months ago, covers delivery drivers for Doordash, Uber Eats, Instacart and others.

The PayUp campaign, based at Working Washington, organized for five years to pass labor standards protections for gig workers in Seattle. The campaign came out of a growing crisis for this exploited workforce which lacked minimum wage and other workplace rights that traditional workers have.

They won the right to minimum wage in 2022 after going through a thorough 18 month city process, with strong support from MLK Labor and the Seattle labor community. Since the law went into effect in January, the campaign has faced a coordinated industry attack to undermine the policy and to interfere with its implementation.

Companies have significantly increased prices for consumers, resulting in backlash against the ordinance. Despite significant misinformation around the law, workers are being paid substantially more.

The app corporations have seized the opportunity with the new business-friendly Seattle City Council to push a narrative that worker protections are too burdensome. The apps have followed a playbook that has proven successful in other cities by significantly raising prices, creating political pressure against the law.

They have found a champion in Council President Sara Nelson, who has made it clear that one of her top priorities this year is repealing gig worker labor standards and reducing support for the Office of Labor Standards. Nelson has been on the record disparaging Working Washington as a “special interest group” all while working closely with lobbyists for Uber, Instacart, and DoorDash to advance their agenda.

Seattle unions fear that weakening of labor standards for gig-workers is just the beginning of a series of attempts to weaken other labor protections in Seattle. Unions are asking members and the community to speak out in support of the gig-worker ordinance in advance of Thursday’s Governance Committee meeting.

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