Seattle is Now the First U.S. City to Allow Uber and Lyft Drivers to Unionize
On Monday, Seattle became the first city in the United States to approve a bill that allows drivers from ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to form unions over pay and conditions. The Seattle City Council's vote was a unanimous 8-0 in favor of the new law.
The vote is certainly a victory for Seattle's App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA) who worked side-by-side with the local Teamsters union for the legislation's approval. Other drivers across the United States will certainly view this win as a major influence on future actions taken in their own cities.
The new union law, then, will require companies to give Seattle a complete list of drivers working in the city. And like other unions, this Seattle-based organization would use the list to get in touch with drivers, as well as work to gain the support of a majority of a company's drivers, to be designated as their bargaining representative.
Unsurprisingly, Uber and Lyft are not fans of the union legislation. Uber, who is currently embroiled in a class-action lawsuit in California regarding drivers who wish to be considered full-time employees instead of contractors, has been embroiled in employment issues for awhile now; the company has consistently fought against such measures like the new union law, citing reasons like work flexibility it allows its drivers. Meanwhile, Lyft sees Seattle's legislation as a threat to the privacy of its drivers, and in a statement, said that "[w]e urge the mayor and full council to reconsider this legislation and listen to the voices of their constituents who choose to drive with Lyft because of the flexible economic opportunity it offers."
Even Seattle's mayor Ed Murray has his doubts about the law. In a statement made after the vote, he voiced some concerns about the "unknown costs of administer the collective bargaining process and other burdens the ordinance will place on city staff members." Because of this, Mr. Murray would not sign the bill; however, it will become law regardless of his signature. "As this ordinance takes effect, my administration will begin its work to determine what it will take to implement the law," Mr. Murray said in the statement. "I believe it will be necessary to seek additional clarifying legislation from the Council."