Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Who’s the Real Author Behind Seattle’s “PayUp” Legislation?

Working Washington got its start advocating for the Service Employees International Union and its Fight for $15 campaign. (In fact, the group is so entrenched in union interests that we filed a complaint against it, arguing it should be considered a “labor organization.”) Most recently, Working Washington pushed for a government takeover of Seattle’s gig economy through its “PayUp” policy. On April 5, Councilmember Lisa Herbold introduced a bill under that name.

The PayUp package sets compensation minimums for gig workers and limits how apps can deactivate workers and remove them from the service. It could have big implications for every Seattle resident who uses a gig service. Prices could increase, apps could have a harder time removing poorly rated drivers, and new delivery services could be less likely to come to Seattle.

Internal documents obtained by the Center for Union Facts from the City of Seattle shed new insights on the origins on this legislation. Working Washington’s main lobbyist, Sage Wilson, has been able to provide key input on the legislation to several members of Seattle City Council, their staff, and the Office of Labor Standard (OLS). Wilson not only advised these people, but set the timeline of the legislation and was allowed to edit the bill.

Seattle’s City Council first debated draft PayUp legislation on July 13, culminating Working Washington’s multi-year advocacy and lobbying campaign on the issue. Unsurprisingly, the original draft legislation incorporated key Working Washington policy demands, including on “minimum compensation,” “transparency,” and “deactivation.” Once introduced, Working Washington lobbyist Sage Wilson truly became an integral part of the city’s policy process.

On September 10, 2021, Wilson emailed a city council member’s office, proclaiming “[I] really want to underscore the importance to us of the draft legislation being discussed in committee on Tuesday.”