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Uber to pay $3.4 million in back pay, sick leave to Seattle drivers

uber car
Parker Miles Blohm
An Uber car

Uber is paying $3.4 million to resolve claims for back wages and unpaid sick leave from more than 15,000 drivers in Seattle. The company reached the settlement after the city’s Office of Labor Standards investigated allegations of inconsistencies with Seattle’s paid sick-leave ordinance.

Last summer, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation that temporarily requires app-based companies to offer paid sick days to their workers during the pandemic.

Teamsters Union Local 117 gathered Thursday with drivers and city leaders to announce the settlement.

The agreement includes nearly $1.3 million in back pay, interest, damages and civil penalties for 2,329 workers, as well as nearly $2.2 million in advance payment of unused paid time off to 15,084 workers.

Organizer Joshua Welter said this win is just the latest after getting one of the highest minimum wages in the country for Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as other protections.

"What we are doing here in Seattle is not just an amazing meeting victory for Seattle workers. We're setting a model for the rest of the country,” Welter said.

Under the settlement, all of the 15,000 drivers will receive at least one day of sick pay.

Several thousand will get additional payouts of back pay and other damages.

For many Uber drivers, the settlement is a huge relief. 

“It's amazing. It's wonderful. It’s a big day for people,” said Peter Kuel, president of the union that represents the drivers.  

Kuel says the settlement is fair. Drivers have shuttled medical staff and patients throughout the pandemic, he said. 

“Pick up all the nurses, pick up all the patients with corona, drop them to the hospital – it is putting your life at risk,” he added.  

Harry Hartfield, Uber's public affairs manager, said in the news release that the company worked over a few weeks to build a new payment system to comply with the new law.

"While the vast majority of workers claimed their Paid Sick and Safe Time without an issue, we’re grateful that the Office of Labor Standards worked in partnership with us as we improved our systems to ensure accurate and prompt payments,” Hartfield said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to