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Seattle approves minimum wage for Uber, Lyft drivers

Yahoo Finance’s On the Move panel discuss the latest news that Seattle will require that Uber and Lyft drivers receive minimum wage.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: This has to do with a minimum-wage law-- I believe it's Seattle-- if you are an Uber or a Lyft driver. Melody, I can't imagine that the ride-share companies are happy about this.

- Yeah, this is some big news, Adam. The Seattle City Council did approve that minimum pay standard for ride-hailing companies that operate with over 500 employees. It is only the second city after New York City in the entire country to actually implement this. The law goes into effect in January.

And what the total minimum wage comes out to is about $16 for Uber or Lyft drivers that have a passenger in the car. So it's not when they're just driving around the city, right? So it's only for those hours that they're in operation. In a statement, Mayor Jenny Durkan did say the pandemic has exposed the fault lines in our systems of worker protections, leaving many frontline workers, like gig workers, without a safety net.

We can expect many other cities and states around the country to sort of issue a similar sort of mandate, right? As we see here in California, Uber and Lyft have vehemently denied implementing AD5, which did go into effect. And in November, we should anticipate that prop 25, to potentially create that third class of employee, will potentially get passed here in the state, creating that third category here.

JULIE HYMAN: Melody, not all the drivers are in favor of this law, right, just like they weren't of the law in California. Some of them were saying that this is-- it's a complicated thing to try to determine minimum wage for these drivers. Because there are so many expenses. So is it net? Is it-- I mean, it's difficult.

- Yeah so that $16 is after expenses. But to your point, Julie, this is such a nuanced conversation. And I think the longer these conversations go on, the more clear it is that a lot of drivers are actually not onboard, right? They're saying, please, do not speak on my behalf, all of you legislators and administrators. I would like to act freely, have the flexibility to pick up other gigs.

But I think time and time again, we come to the bottom line that a lot of these Uber and Lyft drivers-- yes, it was a choice in many ways to have that flexible lifestyle. But it's mostly because of extenuating circumstances, because they got laid off, because they got furloughed. This is not necessarily the top destination. I think there was a lot of that narrative early on from the companies themselves, saying, hey, folks are kind of rejecting very white-collar jobs that are stable in order to make more money this way. I think one thing that has been made clear, especially during this pandemic as these companies have suffered, and there have been fewer rides-- of course, people are concerned about their own safety-- is that that may not be the case, right?

So I think there are both sides that unfortunately are trying to come with the resolution. I do understand that, with the Seattle vote, it was a unanimous decision. It was a 9 to 0 vote. I really hope that they actually consulted some Uber and Lyft drivers, right, before coming to that conclusion.