Mayor Harrell Stands With Drivers Union Distributing At-Home COVID Tests to Seattle’s Lyft and Uber Drivers
SEATTLE - Today Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell joined Drivers Union President, Peter Kuel and staff to distribute more than 500 at-home COVID tests to Seattle’s Lyft and Uber drivers. Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, Port Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed, and a representative from the Somali Health Board also participated in the event, which was held at Masjid al-Taqwa Mosque in Seattle’s Central District following midday prayers.
A recent University of Washington study of Seattle’s Uber and Lyft drivers during the pandemic, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that the majority of drivers reported high levels of stress and concern about being exposed to COVID. Only 31% said they received an appropriate mask and hand sanitizer from the company they drove for, and spent their own income on PPE. According to the study, drivers who left app-based driving reported having a hard time getting unemployment benefits.
“In One Seattle, we know app-based drivers are essential workers who we depend on to get us safely where we need to go,” said Mayor Harrell. “Thanks to the organizing and advocacy of thousands of drivers who formed the Drivers Union, and the support of a City who values all of its workers, we passed the Fare Share Plan when I served as Council President. Today, as Mayor, I'm proud to stand with rideshare drivers and the Drivers Union to share needed protections to stay safe and healthy, which helps keep our entire community safe and healthy."
One of the Mayor’s last votes on the City Council as Council President was to pave the way for minimum wage requirements for drivers and worker protections including from unfair deactivation.
Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, a champion for working families, joined the Drivers Union event to distribute COVID tests to workers. “Workers are stronger when we speak with a collective voice – the successes of Drivers Union is a testament to that,” shared Councilmember Mosqueda.
“Through organizing and advocacy, Seattle’s Uber and Lyft drivers have achieved a nation-leading minimum wage after expenses, paid sick days - a first in the country for gig workers, and first-in-the-nation worker protections. I am thrilled to be here with Drivers Union helping keep our essential drivers, and our community, healthy.”
As a part of the Fare Share package, the City also established new rights to protect drivers against unfair deactivation, a process for resolving disputes when drivers are unjustly terminated, and a Driver Resolution Center to support drivers. The Center, operated through Drivers Union, provides free legal representation, advocacy, education, and outreach for drivers.
“In just seven months, Drivers Union has reached close to 8,000 drivers to educate them about their rights and provide support,” said Drivers Union President Peter Kuel. “We have also helped 181 drivers whose Uber or Lyft accounts were deactivated through no fault of their own reinstate their accounts,” added Kuel. “That means almost 200 families who lost their sole source of income overnight are now able to continue to support their families – that’s an important achievement, but there are hundreds of other drivers in the same situation. We have a lot of work to do!”
Seattle’s more than 30,000 Uber and Lyft drivers are made up largely of immigrants and people of color. In fact, 30% of drivers and their families rely on food stamps in King County and 24% of drivers in the county are living in federal poverty (Parrott & Reich 24).
Drivers Union is the voice for Washington’s more than 30,000 Uber and Lyft drivers, promoting fairness, justice and transparency in Seattle’s ride-hail industry. For more information, visit www.DriversUnionWA.org.