Seattle Says Independent-Contract Drivers Can Unionize

December 17, 2015
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Seattle WA – The Seattle City Council voted 8-0 Dec. 14 to allow taxi, for-hire, and Uber drivers to unionize—even if they’re classified as independent contractors, who don’t have the right to collective bargaining under federal labor law.

The law, the first of its kind in the U.S., will require cab companies to give the city a list of their drivers, to be turned over to a union or other nonprofit group. If a majority of drivers join that organization, the company could be fined for not coming to an agreement with it. “This bill was only introduced out of necessity after witnessing how little power drivers themselves had in working for a living wage,” Councilmember Mike O’Brien, the bill’s sponsor, said. “I am proud Seattle is continuing to lead the nation in advancing labor standards for our workers.” Mayor Ed Murray will avoid signing the measure, but that won’t prevent it from becoming law. Uber, which has more than 10,000 drivers in Seattle and recently began a service where drivers pick up fares along set routes, is likely to challenge it in court, on the grounds that independent contractors acting collectively violates federal labor and antitrust laws. “The riders, they see how much we’re paid,” said Takele Gobena, a 26-year-old Uber driver and union supporter. “We are just asking Uber to pay us a living wage. Seattleites want that. Read more

December 16, 2015

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