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Seattle city councilmember plans proposal to adjust app-based minimum wage law

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(The Center Square) – Seattle City Council President Sara Nelson is initiating work to create legislation intended to adjust a 2022 ordinance which established a minimum wage for app-based gig workers.

The App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance requires network companies to pay the greater of a minimum per-minute amount of 44 cents and a minimum per-mile amount of 74 cents, or a minimum per-offer amount of $5.

Nelson recently described the ordinance’s impact on the local economy as “catastrophic” and said she has directed city council staff to put together on a partial rollback of the law.

Nelson noted that the compromised proposal would retain a minimum wage.

“We are in fact requiring network companies to pay drivers $19.97 per hour – plus the 35 cent fee per mile,” Nelson said at a Monday Seattle City Council briefing.

What makes the proposal different from the current app-based laws is that it is not based on a per-order payment, but on a pay period. This means that worker pay is based on the amount of engaged times that drivers actually worked, according to Nelson. The current law does not guarantee any kind of payment per hour.

“I believe strongly that [the proposed ordinance] will be an improvement upon the current situation,” Nelson added.

Nelson’s push to adjust the city’s App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance comes less than four months after it went into effect on Jan. 13.

The Center Square previously reported on the immediate impacts of the App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance. App-based delivery drivers based in Seattle told The Center Square that the number of orders through services like Doordash and UberEats have dropped considerably since the law went into effect.

Companies like Doordash have implemented regulatory fees in response to the new law, causing the cost of orders to go up.

Some local restaurants have seen a reduction in online orders, resulting in a hit to sales revenue.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales put out a statement on March 28 calling on app-based companies in favor of repealing the law to release information justifying their fee hikes on customers.

“The app-based companies trying to repeal the minimum wage, like DoorDash and Instacart, must release information justifying their fee increases before the council moves forward,” Morales said in a news release. “They have refused to do that.”

Heather Nielson, an app-based delivery driver based in Seattle, sent an email to Morales agreeing that questions need to be asked of the big corporations like DoorDash and Uber, but noted that large corporations are the only entities benefitting from the law, whereas gig workers are not being protected as intended.

Members and supporters of the nonprofit Drive Forward Seattle, a group of delivery drivers and advocates, plan to attend Tuesday’s Seattle City Council meeting to demand changes to the ordinance.

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