SEATTLE – Councilmembers Lisa Herbold (District 1 – West Seattle/South Park) and Andrew Lewis (District 7 – Pioneer Square to Magnolia) unveiled the first bill in the PayUp policy proposal. The bill covers minimum payment, transparency, and flexibility issues.
Many app-based or “gig” workers on platforms like DoorDash, Instacart, and Uber Eats are underpaid and can end up earning a sub-minimum wage. After expenses such as mileage, vehicle maintenance, and other business costs are considered, workers may sometimes even lose money on app-based work.
App-based work, such as on-demand food delivery, pet sitting, or grocery shopping is one of the fastest growing job sectors in our economy. This work has proven to be invaluable to many and it is important to protect the flexibility that app-based work provides. However, workers need to be paid adequately.
“It’s long past time that these workers receive Seattle’s minimum wage as well as compensation for business expenses, including the miles they travel as part of their jobs,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold. “In March 2020, when the pandemic became real for us in Seattle and Washington, tens of thousands of workers stayed home, and many continue to stay home to this day. Meanwhile, these app-based workers have continued to show up. That’s why in June 2021 the Council passed premium pay for app-based workers. That legislation is tied to the pandemic though and the additional work and conditions these workers found themselves in. As we begin to reopen and return to work, app-based workers need a long-term solution that holistically addresses the concerns they have and their subminimum wage earnings. This is why PayUp is so important.”
“Work is work, regardless if it is directed by an app or not,” said Councilmember Andrew Lewis. “These policies ensure people who depend on app-based work receive fair compensation under transparent working conditions. This proposal has big implications for what the future of work will look like in the 21st century.”
While app-based workers are sometimes making below minimum wage or even losing money on this work, the companies are reporting unprecedented growth and billions in revenue:
- DoorDash reported revenue at $4.89 billion in 2021 which is up 69% from 2020.
- Uber Eats reported $5.8 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2021, beating their own estimates of $5.36 billion.
- Instacart’s 2021 revenue grew 10% year-over-year to $1.65 billion. The company’s valuation is $24 billion, up from $17.7 billion a few months prior.
The PayUp policy package is a group of bills being drafted and introduced by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis that work to address the many issues facing app-based workers. There are six issues areas that are slated to comprise the PayUp policy proposal:
- Minimum Payment, Transparency and Flexibility (introduced today)
- Restroom Access
- Background Checks
- Advisory Board
The first bill, the one unveiled today, addresses minimum payment, transparency, and flexibility:
- Minimum Payment – Ensuring app-based workers earn the minimum wage plus expenses.
- Transparency – Providing app-based workers with the information they need to make informed choices about which offers to accept, and to ensure they will be paid minimum wage for jobs they perform. The legislation also provides transparency to customers on the nature of charges, including amounts paid to workers vs money retained by the company.
- Flexibility – Protecting workers’ flexibility, including the right to freely choose jobs and hours.
“Right now, our labor standards don’t reflect our values. In Seattle, we pride ourselves on being a place that promotes equity, diversity, and social justice—but as an African American gay man doing gig work in this city, I’m living another reality,” said Raymond Evans, a driver on DoorDash and UberEats who’s been helping lead the PayUp campaign. “Myself and tens of thousands of other gig workers—many of whom are Black and brown—bring home as little as $5/hour after expenses. It’s a deplorable violation of our basic rights and the values our City holds at its core. Will we allow these subminimum wages to continue—or will we choose to pass PayUp?”
This legislation has been in development for nearly a year, as Council has been facilitating large meetings with a wide swath of stakeholders since June 2021. Since then, there have been 12 of these large stakeholder meetings. Stakeholders have included a range of companies that would potentially be impacted like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Rover, Instacart, and others; app-based workers who work for those companies; Councilmembers and others. Additional stakeholder meetings continue to take place separately with subgroups including marketplace-based companies, and on-demand delivery companies to address their unique concerns.
The first bill about minimum payment, transparency and flexibility will be discussed in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, chaired by Councilmember Herbold, starting on Tuesday, April 12th at 9:30 a.m and can be watched live on the Seattle Channel.
The other issues areas are still being finalized and may be introduced later this year.
Today the Councilmembers also published a website about PayUp that further explains the policy proposal, stakeholder engagement, committee discussions, and includes links to media coverage and frequently asked questions.