On Saturday, January 13th, 2024, the City of Seattle’s new gig worker ordinances took effect. These laws apply to app-based independent contractors such as Uber, Doordash, GoPuff, and others. The new ordinances cover compensation, transparency, and flexibility. The new minimum amount that companies are required to pay their gig workers is $0.44 per minute and $0.44 per mile, or a minimum $5 per offer.
The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) hosted a public education and celebration event for these new ordinances, where a gig worker shared his story. Wei Lin, who currently works as a gig worker for DoorDash, Uber, and GoPuff, explains how he has experienced getting his pay withheld by GoPuff.
“I worked 107 hours in one week, and they did not pay me. I tried to contact them and they ignored me,” states Lin. “I contacted the Seattle Office of Labor Standards, who then contacted GoPuff, and then GoPuff apologized and paid back the money they owed me…Anyone in this field should know their rights and protections so they’re not ripped off.”
Lin and many other gig workers are directly affected by these issues that these new ordinances hope to solve. For example, Lin explains how before these ordinances, “[GoPuff] doesn’t cover you for the distance. There’s no transparency for how much a customer tips, and we aren’t supposed to ask for tips. GoPuff could take the tips, but I’d have no idea. I wouldn’t know until I actually complete the order.”
Lin encourages customers and the public to focus on what’s important. “In my opinion the customer already pays so much. If they don’t tip me I won’t get mad…The company keeps the conflict between drivers and customers. We just want a fair wage…Drivers do not have the power to raise costs and fees for customers, and we are not the reason for inflation.”
Kimberly Wolfe is another gig worker who shares her experiences and history with the PayUp campaign - “I’ve been with this campaign before it was a campaign,” states Wolfe. “I’m proud to say this was gig-worker led action and legislation.”(Figure 1)
Figure 1: Table At Event
Art from one of the tables on Sunday’s event.
In Washington State, minimum wage previously did not include gig workers as they were not W-2 workers and they were considered independent contractors (or 1099 workers). In the early days of the campaign, there was a consideration to change the gig workers’ classification.
Wolfe encourages people not to get caught up in this classification debate. “it doesn’t matter who you are - whether you’re a W-2 or 1099, you should not be getting subminimum wages. If you work 40 hours a week, you should be able to have a roof over your head, some transportation, food in your refrigerator. [The classification debate] is nonsense and we don’t need to look at it.”
Wolfe uses an example from her experience to explain why tip transparency in these new ordinances is important - “If [the company says], do you want to tip, and you say no…they will send the job to me and say we have a $5 delivery fee order, no tip. If I take that and go and do it, and you [tip] me $3 at the door, I made $8. If it’s the other way around, they say do you want to tip and [you] say yeah, i’ll give them $3. To you you’ve given $8. To me, they say I have this $2 delivery fee order with a $3 tip. And do that and now I got $5. They use that tip to lower the delivery fee, so it’s the equivalent of stealing the tip.”
Wolfe explains how customers and workers can communicate to ensure accountability for these companies. “As a customer, when you have cash, tip cash instead. If it’s not, that’s fine, [but feel free to ask] the gig worker, hey, I tipped x amount, is what they gave you?...Because if there’s a discrepancy, gig workers will find out about it that much quicker.”
Regarding the minimum pay ordinance, Wolfe encourages customers to be aware - “These gig companies are going to tell them that their delivery fee went up because they have to pay us a fair wage. When in actuality, they made a billion more in profits during covid, and were paying us less. They do not need to raise any prices..it is not a necessity of economics. When you get the email saying ‘Oh we had to raise this because…’...I would encourage those customers to send emails to these [companies] saying ‘you made millions of dollars in profits, there’s no way you have to do this. Don’t raise my costs because of your greed.’”
Edited by: Matsoarelo Makuke
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