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Seattle’s Untested Gig Worker Laws are Hurting Residents, Small Businesses and Consumers By Bishop Garry Tyson


I am one of many local leaders who have raised concerns with the Seattle City Council over the past year on how various ordinances will impact the affordability of delivery.

Regardless, the Council plowed ahead with these extreme policies, including the delivery worker minimum pay standard that took effect Jan. 13. I support strong wages and believe it is important that working people in our city are protected, but this law requires certain companies to pay drivers nearly $30 an hour, plus mileage and tips well in excess of the city’s minimum wage. As predicted, costs have gone up and opportunities for app-based delivery workers to earn have gone down–as have orders from our local businesses.

I am hearing from small-business owners in my community that they’re seeing a drop in app-based delivery orders. With so many of our small businesses surviving on tight margins, this change in consumer behavior, spurred by a novel and unproven policy, has made life difficult for many.

Don’t just take my word for it, countless media outlets have done several reports recently on the implementation of the minimum pay standard, with King 5 TV saying it has “backfired.” One delivery driver interviewed showed the reporter his earnings from the same week last year, which was $931, comparing it to the same week after the minimum pay regulation took effect this year – $464.81. Half of his earnings evaporated due to the regulation. The fact is, the new rules may be hurting the very workers they set out to help.

Those who advocated for the new law are pointing fingers of blame when people like me, who are on the ground everyday in the community serving our most vulnerable residents, warned them that not only would the minimum pay standard impact app-based contractors but also hurt disabled, elderly and low-income residents who rely on app-based delivery services to receive food and goods.

The policy fails to recognize that for some residents, delivery through these apps is a lifeline, not a luxury. It means their one-car family can get essentials like milk and diapers delivered; it means they don’t have to find childcare to get to the grocery store. Sometimes it means ordering takeout during a busy work-family schedule.

Whatever the reason people have increased their reliance on app-based delivery services, when policies like Seattle City Council’s app-based workers ordinance make access to everyday essentials financially out of reach for struggling families and our most vulnerable neighbors, it hurts everyone - consumers, businesses and gig workers.

And, that’s exactly what we’re seeing. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first hit app-based delivery drivers will take from hasty Council policies. Starting in 2025, a 10-cent per-delivery fee will be added to orders. Piling on costs for consumers makes it harder for the thousands of Seattleities who utilize these apps to earn supplemental income. With many consumers deleting the apps out of frustration.

Making policy that keeps up with innovation can be difficult, but leaving the facts at the door and blindly implementing laws that hurt people and local businesses is unacceptable.

I am hopeful the new City Council will revisit these policies and find a pathway forward that benefits everyone.

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