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State Legislature passes minimum pay rate, sick leave requirements for Uber, Lyft drivers

Drivers also won protections against unfair deactivation without good cause.
Credit: AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2016, file photo, a ride share car displays Lyft and Uber stickers on its front windshield.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Drivers who work for Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies won sick leave, a minimum pay rate and other benefits with the passage of HB 2076 in the Washington Legislature. 

The bill mimics some existing protections for rideshare drivers in Seattle. 

The legislation "secures the highest labor standards for Lyft and Uber drivers in the country," according to Teamsters Local 117, which represents Uber and Lyft drivers in Washington.

The proposal sets a minimum pay rate based on the size of the city trips originate in. For trips that begin in cities with a population of more than 600 thousand, drivers must be paid 59 cents per minute and $1.38 per passenger platform mile, or a minimum of $5.17 cents per trip. 

For all other trips, drivers are guaranteed a minimum rate of 34 cents per minute and $1.17 per passenger platform mile, or a minimum of $3 per trip. 

L&I will be required to increase guaranteed pay rates by the rate of increase in the state minimum wage.

Drivers who spoke with the union shared how the pay increase will provide more stability.

"Year after year, our pay has been reduced, requiring us to work longer and drive further to make ends meet,” said Walt Ellis, an Uber and Lyft driver from Bellingham. “I'm proud to be a part of a driver movement that has won first-in-the-nation protections, benefits, and pay raises statewide. This victory puts an end to unsustainable pay cuts, and moves drivers forward where our pay will rise with the cost of living."

Drivers are now also entitled to one hour of paid sick leave per every 40 hours worked, a protection afforded to gig workers in Seattle since 2012.

The bill establishes an appeals process to protect against unfair deactivations through the creation of a Driver Resource Center. The center will establish provisions requiring rideshare companies to share information they used to deactivate drivers, provisions requiring a 30-day resolution process and provisions related to providing notices to drivers, among other requirements.

Representatives from Uber and Lyft both applauded the passage of the legislation. 

"This is a solution that Washington State's drivers overwhelmingly support. Not only does it deliver meaningful new benefits, it also expands important protections for them. Because this is what drivers want, Lyft is proud to support this first-of-its-kind legislative solution and we are eager to see it signed into law," said Vice President and Head of Government Relations for Lyft Jen Hensley. 

"This compromise bill gives drivers what they want - it protects the flexibility we know they deeply value while gaining historic benefits and protections. We're glad that the overwhelming majority of legislators put the interests of drivers first and passed legislation that will actually make a difference in the lives of workers," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement to KING 5.

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