Washington State Passes Controversial New Workers Conduct Act

James Childers says he really enjoys driving for Uber and Lyft in Spokane, a city in Washington state. But since he started working for ride-hailing companies in 2017, he’s seen the share of drivers of each fare slip. Once, three-quarters of every ride went straight into his pocket, he says, and now the companies are using formulas that allow drivers to earn as little as $9 an hour without sometimes spotty tips, below the state’s minimum wage.

But Childers only became involved with Drivers Union – an advocacy group affiliated with the local union Teamsters – after an irreconcilable passenger temporarily kicked the accusation of racism from the Uber app. (The company admitted when it showed the company a dashcam recording of the incident, he says.) “Uber and Lyft don’t care,” he says. “They have other drivers waiting in the wings.” The company declined to comment on the specific incident.

Now Childers hopes a new state law regulating drivers, signed Thursday by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, will give drivers more recourse against the companies, and be at least equal to what it was five years ago. The bill, which was the result of negotiations between Uber, Lyft and the local affiliate of the Teamsters, maintains independent driver contractor status in the state — and protects the core business model of taxi companies.

Drivers across the state are getting new rights. They will accrue sick pay and receive minimum wage guarantees based on the time and distance they spend on each journey, although the guarantees only apply to the time they carry or pick up passengers. Drivers generally report that they spend 40 to 60 percent of their time without people in their cars. They may also choose to use a new 15-cent passenger fee to fund a driver information center, which can appeal to those kicked out of the companies’ apps. But drivers don’t get the full range of traditional benefits that come with being a workforce, including healthcare. And taxi companies still won’t pay for unemployment insurance programs, a factor that frustrated many drivers during the pandemic, when rides suddenly dried up.

In a statement, Ramona Prieto, Uber’s Western U.S. chief policy officer, said the law allows drivers to “remain independent while gaining historic new benefits and protections.” Jen Hensley, Lyft’s head of government relations, said the law gives executives the “flexibility, independence, benefits and protection they want and deserve.”

At 11 a.m. Thursday, the newly appointed president of the National Teamsters union, Sean O’Brien, publicly called on the state governor to veto the bill, saying it would introduce standards that would limit existing rights of workers. workers in other sectors.

The local chapter of the Teamsters, which helped draft the bill, disagrees. “Uber and Lyft drivers – like all workers – deserve a labor movement that respects their right to self-determination to set their own priorities, stand in solidarity with them in their struggle and never give up the fight for fairness and justice.” union secretary treasurer John Scearcy in a statement.

This post Washington State Passes Controversial New Workers Conduct Act

was original published at “https://www.wired.com/story/uber-lyft-washington-state-prop-22”