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Judge Stays Seattle Law Letting Uber, Lyft Drivers Unionize

April 9, 2017 
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Seattle, WA - A federal judge in Seattle issued a preliminary injunction Apr. 4 delaying the city’s law that lets “ride sharing” taxi drivers unionize, until a legal challenge to the law is settled.

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik wrote that because the issues in the case are “novel” and “complex,” “the public will be well-served by maintaining the status quo while the issues are given careful judicial consideration.” The 2015 law lets drivers for taxi services such as Uber and Lyft form unions even though they’re classified as independent contractors, not employees. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sued, arguing that because the drivers are competing businesses, letting them set prices would be “forming a cartel.” The city of Seattle and Teamsters Local 117, which has been trying to organize the drivers, contend that they’re actually employees. “The work lives of the men and women who drive for Uber and Lyft are completely controlled by the companies,” Amalgamated Transit Union President Lawrence Hanley said in a statement Apr. 5. “These companies can unilaterally lower their rate of pay, ‘switch drivers off’ without due process, and oversaturate the market by adding more and more drivers.” The injunction saves the 12 taxi companies affected by the law from having to give Local 117 a list of their drivers’ names and contact information. Read more

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