Gig workers on apps advocate for minimum wage standards in Seattle

The Seattle City Council is considering a suite of bills being called "PayUp" that will set wage standards and protections for app-based workers.

The legislation is being sponsored by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis. On Thursday, the councilmembers will be joined by gig workers, Working Washington and Seattle Restaurants United to discuss the proposed bill at Seattle City Hall.

"I do everything from accept the order, drive to the store, do the shopping, package it up and then take it to the customer," said Michelle Balzer, a full-service shopper on the app InstaCart.

Balzer started working on InstaCart back in February 2020 after a job she accepted as a drug addiction counselor closed due to the pandemic. Balzer said she enjoys interacting with people and the flexibility the job offers, but she said the pay is unpredictable.

"The ‘PayUp’ campaign is really about setting a standard for gig workers. I am so faithfully supportive of this," said Balzer. "I assume you know what you make, and you know why, and if your paycheck is wrong, you know who to go to. I don’t have any of those perks. I don’t really know why we get paid what we get paid. That changes every day."

There are more than 40,000 gig workers on apps like InstaCart and Doordash who would be impacted. Seattle residents told FOX 13 News that they would support minimum wage legislation for these workers.

"So they can get fair wages like everybody else, because they work just as hard as everybody else? Yeah, I think they should get that," said Kathryn Barclay of Seattle. "Through the whole coronavirus we’re still going through, they’ve been delivering to everybody, no matter what, so if they want a little bit extra, I think everybody should do that."

"It’s hard enough for me to go to the grocery store, and for me, it’s cost-effective to go to the grocery store, but I appreciate the labor it takes to do that for sure," said Anna Condella of Seattle.

"Everyone in Seattle deserves fair compensation for their work, and app-based workers aren’t any different. However, for many, a day making less than the minimum wage has become the norm. I’m excited to stand with app-based workers tomorrow to discuss our plan for ensuring they are protected and receive fair compensation on the job," said Herbold.

If you’d like to attend Thursday’s policy briefing, Click here to RSVP. The meeting is being held at 2 p.m. at Seattle City Hall and on Zoom.

A spokesperson for DoorDash told FOX 13 News that it has long supported efforts to strengthen Dasher earnings while protecting their independence. The company further stated Seattle Dashers earn over $28 an hour on delivery on average with more than 90 percent of Seattle-based Dashers working less than ten hours a week.

DoorDash said in a statement: "People across Seattle rely on DoorDash for access to meals, groceries, and other essentials, as well as the ability to earn when, where, and however long they want - and this proposal could put this out of reach. If passed, this could lead to dramatically increased costs of delivery, which could reduce orders. We estimate that if passed, Seattle businesses would lose over an aggregate of $74 million per year and Dashers would lose over $32 million in aggregate earnings due to this expected drop in orders."

A spokesperson for UBER reached out to FOX 13 and said, "While we support efforts to improve earnings for delivery partners, the policy being pushed through the council will result in less work opportunity for drivers, increased costs for consumers and less orders for the local small businesses that access our platform. The unintended consequences of taking away access to work and stifling income for small businesses is not the answer. We look forward to talking with the City about how best to support delivery drivers without unintended consequences that could hurt restaurants and customers."

According to Uber, the cost of rider fares increased nearly 50 percent following Seattle's wage law enacted in 2021. 

The company further said it believes the policy will make services more costly for eaters, and modeling is clear that this will result in a loss of thousands of orders for small businesses and higher costs for people who are already struggling with record high prices.

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