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The Seattle City Council is considering legislation that would require food and transportation delivery companies to provide gig workers in Seattle with hazard pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed council bill, sponsored by council members Lisa Herbold and Andrew J. Lewis, would require delivery and rideshare companies like Uber, Postmates and Grubhub to provide a $5 payment to the delivery driver, in addition to tips and other commission, for any work-related stop in Seattle.
“Gig workers working during the COVID-19 emergency merit additional compensation because they are performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship that can cause extreme physical discomfort and distress due to the significant risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus,” the legislation stated. “Gig workers have been working under these hazardous conditions for months. They are working in these hazardous conditions now and will continue to face safety risks as the virus presents an ongoing threat for an uncertain period, potentially resulting in subsequent waves of infection.”
The bill comes as food and grocery delivery has become an essential lifeline to those adhering social distancing guidelines during the pandemic and for restaurants trying to stay in business. However, many of the workers delivering the food and goods, considered independent contractors, do not receive any benefits from the parent company.
“This legislation will take a large step to a more equitable treatment to these essential frontline workers,” said Lewis during a council briefing on May 26.
Last month, the council passed an emergency order that capped delivery app fees for restaurants at 15% while the pandemic has shuttered in-person dining.
Herbold emphasized that many of these gig workers, who are not hourly workers, are incurring extra costs related to the sanitation of their vehicles and securing personal protective equipment to safely do their work during the pandemic.
“It is important to think about the premium pay as a concept that combines both hazard pay, pay associated with the risk that individuals are taking to do essential work, as well as pay for peoples time and cost associated with supplies,” said Herbold during the briefing.
Lyft expressed concern that the bill may increase costs for essential workers using rideshare services to commute during the pandemic.
“The Council’s actions to pass an unprecedented tax increase seriously harms essential workers and low-income community members who can’t afford private vehicles and are being told to avoid public transit during the pandemic,” said a Lyft spokesperson. “For thousands of nurses and healthcare aids, janitors, and food service workers, rideshare has become their only effective alternative for travel, and the Council’s move in the middle of a pandemic to increase fares by 50% in some cases would directly come out of their pockets.”
A full council vote is expected on June 1. If approved, the bill would go into effect immediately. However, if minimum compensation law is put into place by Mayor Jenny Durkan, the council has stated that it will roll back the ordinance for premium pay.
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Lisa joined DARO Management Services in July of 2018 and specializes in the oversight of asset managed and company owned residential and commercial properties. Current responsibilities include the overall supervision for a portfolio consisting of over 1,000 units. Lisa oversees all staff development, training, personnel management, leasing, rent collection, monthly and quarterly financial variance/statement reports, annual budgets and project management for building repairs and capital improvement projects.
Prior to joining DARO, Lisa was with The Donaldson Group for 4 years and 11 years with Polinger Shannon & Luchs as a Regional Portfolio Manager throughout Maryland and Washington, DC. During that time, Lisa was responsible for all oversight and operations of a mixed-use residential, commercial and retail portfolio located throughout Maryland and Washington, DC.
Lisa is a certified and licensed DC Property Manager and DC Inclusionary Zoning and Affordable Dwelling Unit Program Manager (IZ/ADU), Community Apartment Manager (CAM) and is an active member of the Apartment & Office Building Association (AOBA), The Property Management Association (PMA) and The Maryland Multi-Housing Association (MMHA).