Seattle-area Uber drivers applaud company’s move to allow in-app tipping

The ride-hailing company on Tuesday launched the new tipping feature in three U.S. cities, including Seattle, as part of a broader initiative to improve its relationship with drivers.

Seattle-area Uber drivers are praising the company’s move to allow tipping on the ride-service app for the first time, saying the change marks a positive shift in how Uber is prioritizing drivers’ complaints.

Dozens gathered at an event hosted by Uber in the city’s Squire Park neighborhood Tuesday, cheering and applauding as company representatives outlined the new tipping option as part of what they are calling “180 Days of Change,” Uber spokesman Nathan Hambley said.

“A number one thing that drivers have been complaining about is tips,” said Uber driver Debra Jeffs-Grad, 70, who is part of the company’s peer adviser program in the Seattle-area that aims to connect drivers and company leaders over working issues. “They’re making it so much more driver friendly.”

The new push, aiming to improve Uber’s relationship with drivers, comes as the corporation grapples with a damaged reputation from a series of scandals, including a report of the company’s toleration of sexual harassment and allegations of trade secrets theft.

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The company launched the tipping option Tuesday in three U.S. cities — Seattle, Houston and Minneapolis — with plans to offer it nationwide by the end of July.

In Seattle, drivers’ pay and working conditions have been in the public spotlight with the passage of the city’s first-of-its-kind law allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize. A federal judge in Seattle has temporarily blocked the law’s implementation, however.

Lyft’s app has long allowed riders to tip drivers.

Jeffs-Grad, a retired nurse and psychiatric social worker, said enabling passengers to tip…

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