City of Seattle Announces First in the Nation Driver Resolution Center (DRC)

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By Rachel Schulkin and Cynthia Santana,

SEATTLE (June 17, 2021) – Following the 2020 passage of Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s “Fare Share” proposal, the City of Seattle announced the launch of the first in the nation Driver Resolution Center (DRC). The Driver’s Union will provide representation to drivers in arbitration hearings and outreach and education on driver’s rights, including those granted by the TNC Driver Deactivation Rights Ordinance (DRO), Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 14.32. The Drivers Union was selected through a Request for Proposals process that was announced in March. The contract for $5 million will be for 18-months from July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022. The Drivers Union collaborative will work with Teamsters 117 as a contracted partner. 

The TNC Driver Deactivation Rights Ordinance (DRO) protects TNC drivers from unwarranted deactivation, an action that blocks drivers’ access to the online platform that allows the driver to provide rides to customers. The law provides a venue for drivers to challenge those deactivations before a neutral arbitrator and authorizes the City to enter into an agreement with an organization to provide Driver Resolution Center services. 

“Seattle is a city of firsts when it comes to worker protections. The Driver Resolution Center is yet another example of how our Fare Share Plan will continue to bring hard-fought worker protections to Seattle’s Uber and Lyft drivers. They are an essential workforce, and the city relies on them to provide businesses and residents critical support,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.  

“As the nature of work changes, our workforce protections must too.  Once again, Seattle is at the forefront of innovative labor standards that help our City’s workers, protect passengers, and provide stability to our economy overall.  Thank you to Mayor Durkan and her team for supporting our ride-share drivers through these innovative labor policies” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).  

“The establishment of the DRC is a historic opportunity for the City to build on protections for transportation network drivers. I have heard stories from drivers about the profoundly negative impact of being deactivated without due process and of the deep inequities of the prior system. The DRC will ensure that, moving forward, drivers will be heard during the deactivation process. My goal has always been to support drivers in their endeavor to create a more equitable environment for all drivers, especially in an industry in which most are immigrants, refugees and non-native English speakers,” said Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). 

“I am so proud that Uber and Lyft drivers in Seattle are leading the way on groundbreaking labor standards that set an example for the rest of the country,” said Peter Kuel, President of Drivers Union, who started driving for Uber and Lyft in 2014. “Starting July 1st, if a driver is terminated without cause, they will have legal appeal rights and a strong advocate at their side.”  

The Drivers Union will deliver Driver Resolution Center services at no cost to TNC drivers and consistent with the requirements of SMC 14.32. Specifically, the organization will provide: 

  • Consultation and support services to drivers facing deactivation; 
  • Direct legal representation to drivers in deactivation arbitration proceedings; 
  • Outreach, education, and support to drivers about their rights; and 
  • Culturally and language-specific services to drivers in the primary languages that drivers speak. 

“I lost my job after I was the victim of being hit by an uninsured driver,” said Nurayne Fofana, a ride-hail driver who was deactivated by Uber in 2018. “Even though investigations by both the police and Uber’s own insurance company found that I was not at fault, I still lost my job. I am so glad that moving forward other drivers will not have to experience what my family went through.” 

“On behalf of the Office of Labor Standards, I am excited to see the launch of this new partnership with the Drivers Union. This collaboration represents another step forward toward ensuring fair treatment for all Seattle TNC drivers by providing no-cost representation to drivers to challenge unfair deactivations. Drivers invest their time, money, and future in their jobs  to support our community and they should have the opportunity to safeguard their livelihood through a fair process that allows them to contest potentially unwarranted deactivations.” said OLS Director, Steven Marchese. 

 

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