From today’s South Seattle Emerald:
On March 4, a labor law concerning rideshare drivers successfully passed through the Washington State Legislature and made its way to the governor’s desk. The Drivers Union, a ride-hailing drivers association affiliated with the Teamsters Local 117 labor union that lobbied heavily for the bill, called it an unprecedented victory that “secures the highest labor standards for Lyft and Uber drivers … including a statewide minimum wage for drivers, paid sick leave, workers’ compensation benefits, and protection against unfair termination.”
After it was signed into law on March 31, Peter Kuel, president of the Drivers Union, says his phone was ringing incessantly. “The calls I’m getting from drivers are amazing,” he said. “Most drivers are asking when this law goes into effect. They want it to go into effect tomorrow, not next year, because they are so happy about it.”
But for many labor leaders and drivers organizations across the country, including the Teamsters’ own regional and national leadership who lobbied against the bill, HB 2076 was cause for alarm. While it does offer material benefits to Washington State’s 30,000 Uber and Lyft drivers, it also formally legislates that app-based ride-hail drivers are not employees in Washington State, making it the latest salvo in the gig companies’ sophisticated and well-funded campaign to deny their drivers basic employment protections by rewriting laws at the local, state, and national level.
As Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), wrote in a letter to the Senate, the bill “enshrine[s] a second class employment status for Washington’s Transportation Network Company drivers” and denies them “access to the foundational protections that workers and unions have fought to win and expand over decades.”
HB 2076 specifically creates a statewide Driver Resource Center to resolve account deactivations (which will likely be run by the Drivers Union members themselves); establishes a per-mile and per-minute pay rate that in many jurisdictions amounts to substantial increases for drivers; provides State-run sick pay and workers’ compensation benefits during “passenger platform time” (i.e., when a passenger is in the driver’s vehicle, only a fraction of the time drivers are actually working); and sets up a task force to make recommendations on unemployment and paid family leave.
Read the complete story here.