Catching Up With Proposed Regulations: “Predictive Scheduling,” unionization of “for hire” drivers, and rental policies

The concatenation of regulatory initiatives in Seattle continues. We’ve written previously about the city’s proposed scheduling ordinance and the ordinance that would allow “for hire” drivers (think Uber and Lyft) to form unions. Add to that the proposed “first come, first served” rental regulation. Let’s catch up on where things stand now.

Scheduling Ordinance

The Seattle Times reports on a hearing Tuesday night on the scheduling law.

Retail workers from the likes of Starbucks and REI spoke passionately on behalf of a “secure scheduling” proposal at a Seattle City Council public hearing Tuesday night, while representatives from companies including Home Depot, JC Penney, Petco and several Subway franchises spoke against it.

Some retail workers also spoke against the law.

Simone Barron, a server at Tom Douglas’ TanakaSan, said the proposed law is an “intrusion into the way we construct our schedules.”

Barron is part of a group called Full Service Workers Alliance of Seattle, which wants to see an exemption in the ordinance for all full-service restaurant workers.

One feature of public hearings is the power of anecdote, the “passionate” speaker the Times cites. But as we’ve written previously, two surveys found most retail and restaurant workers are satisfied with their schedules

Employers continue to voice concerns.

The Washington Retail Association, which earlier Tuesday said it was opposing the law, spoke against it further during the hearing.

Separate from the hearing, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and ten other business associations in Seattle — mostly neighborhood and minority chambers of commerce, submitted a letter to the Seattle City Council on Tuesday, saying a “one-size-fits-all approach will create more problems for employees.”
There will be more opportunities for public comment September 7 and September 13.
Unions and Uber 
Last week we wrote that a federal judge had ruled “not yet” on a lawsuit challenging a Seattle ordinance that would allow Uber and Lyft drivers to form unions. The judge said no damage had yet been done. In fact, the city was still writing the rules.
Geek Wire reports that city councilmembers are growing impatient with staff.
A Seattle City Council committee denied a request from city staff Wednesday for an additional six months to figure out some of the key issues with the landmark ride-hailing unionization law — instead providing only a two-month extension…Councilmember Bruce Harrell called for the shorter extension after learning that city staff was not going to decide which drivers should get to vote on unionization.
Implementation of the historic union law has been a struggle for the city. Feedback from drivers at previous workshops put on by the city has been mixed with some favoring giving a vote to every driver, while others prefer a minimum threshold of hours worked or trips driven.
And then returns the lawsuit.
Rental Policy
Seattle Times reporter Daniel Beekman explains the city’s proposed and unprecedented “first come, first served” rental policy. 
Officials say they’re unaware of any other U.S. city with a policy like the one the Seattle City Council approved Monday, along with other rental-housing changes.
The goal is to ensure prospective renters are treated equally, according to Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who championed the policy. When landlords pick one renter among multiple qualified applicants, their own biases — conscious or unconscious — may come into play, she says.
Before accepting a prospective renter’s application materials, a landlord will need to provide the renter with information on the landlord’s minimum screening criteria, Kranzler said.

When the landlord receives a completed application — in person, electronically or through the mail — the landlord will be required to make note of the date and time.

The landlord will be required to screen multiple applications in the order in which they were received and make offers to qualified renters in that order…

Prospective renters will also have the option to sue a landlord when they think they’ve been skipped — an aspect of the policy that bothers landlord groups.
The goal of this policy is noble — it seeks to correct the very real “unconscious bias” that leads some landlords to discriminate based on race. Herbold’s measure was added to an ordinance that bans discrimination by landlords against renters who rely on alternative sources of income, such as Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits or child-support payments.
But the solution of stripping landlords entirely of their decision making is just plain wrongheaded. 
It’s a well-written op-ed, identifying potential unhappy consequences: higher rents, units pulled off the market, rental properties advertised privately to friends and colleagues. He concludes,
As small landlords, we have not consented to having our homes and livelihoods co-opted as part of some City Council testing ground for a reckless experiment…

We were sorry to learn that Mayor Ed Murray signed the legislation on Wednesday without seeking first to research its impact on small landlords, who will be hurt the most by this policy.

In summary
We simply cite the growing trend of urban policies migrating to the Legislature and the statewide ballot. All worth watching.