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With ballot measure looming, lawmakers tackle regulating Lyft and Uber

Last week the Wire reported that Lyft had dumped $2 million into a ballot initiative committee for an as-yet-to-be-filed measure. The Washington Coalition for Independent Work also includes Uber, Doordash, and Instacart. The gig-economy giants are hoping to get more favorable treatment at the state level than they’ve gotten thus far in Seattle. Today we get a look at what that might look like.

Lyft and Uber in particular have been in negotiation with the Teamsters over a framework for regulating the app-based ride business that stops short of declaring the companies’ drivers employees instead of independent contractors. California tried that a while back, but Lyft et al slapped them down hard with a record-setting ballot measure in 2020. 

The partial result of that negotiation, House Bill 2076, gets a hearing in House Labor and Workforce Standards this morning. The bill, introduced by Rep. Liz Berry, D-Seattle, would require paid sick leave and family and medical leave for drivers, and create a statewide regulatory framework for the companies. It also creates a 15-cent charge per ride to pay for a driver resource center to help drivers who get deactivated by the companies. 

But what’s more notable is what’s still missing from the bill: guaranteed earnings for drivers — one of labor’s priorities in any deal, and pre-emption of tougher local regulations from cities — what Lyft and Uber want out of this deal. The Wire is told those matters are still under intense negotiation. At least the framework of that agreement would need to happen before the Feb. 3 policy cutoff.  

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