Uber and Lyft push back on Seattle mayor’s plan to pay drivers more money

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan unveiled a new proposal to increase pay for Uber and Lyft drivers and cover expenses such as gas.

Durkan wants drivers to be paid at least the Seattle minimum wage, or $16.39 per hour. The plan is part of her “Fare Share” program introduced in September as a way to extend the city’s worker protections to gig economy drivers.

Durkan will transmit legislation to the City Council later this month, with plans to enact the minimum compensation standard on Jan. 1.

The city cited a University of California-Berkeley study showing that drivers in Seattle are making $9.73 per hour after expenses, and that the new mandate would increase pay for 84% of drivers with an average increase in wages of 30%.

Uber and Lyft commissioned their own study from Cornell University showing that the typical driver earned $23 per hour in Seattle after expenses.

Kevin Schofield of SCC Insight analyzed both studies last month and found that they “skew their analysis and recommendations in the direction that favors the one who commissioned their study.”

The “Fare Share” program, which increased a tax on each Uber and Lyft ride this past November, is the latest in a series of regulatory headaches for the mobility giants as regulators crack down on their labor practices.

Both companies pushed back on the mayor’s announcement Thursday. Lyft called it “unworkable” and “misguided regulation.” Here’s the company’s full statement:

“The mayor’s plan is unworkable. It would require TNCs to double pay drivers who are using multiple rideshare or delivery platforms at the same time, as well as pay people to simply have an app open, even if they are not working. This kind of misguided regulation will actually destroy jobs for thousands of people and drive rideshare companies out of Seattle.

Lyft has been clear that it supports smart benefits for drivers without taking away their independence or kicking people off the platform. In California, Lyft is offering drivers up to $367 per month for health care premiums, accident and disability insurance, and a guaranteed earnings floor that in Seattle would equal on average more than $26 per hour without kicking a single driver off the platform.”




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