Seattle Is First City To Let Uber Drivers Unionize | KUOW News and Information

Seattle Is First City To Let Uber Drivers Unionize

Dec 14, 2015

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to become the first city in the nation to allow Uber, Lyft and other for-hire drivers to unionize.

Councilmember Mike O'Brien said the vote was consistent with other recent protection for local workers, like the $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave.

Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other services are independent contractors and are not protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

Uber driver Fasil Teka said he works seven days a week for sometimes more than 10 hours a day just to get by.

"There's a lot of things the drivers, now that we're united, we can say things as one, not individually. We have more leverage than ever before, so this is just the beginning," Teka said.

Uber and Lyft have opposed unionizing efforts.

In a written statement after the vote, an Uber spokesperson said that the company "is creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms."

The company said that its drivers enjoy the flexibility of setting their own schedule and half work fewer than 10 hours per week.

Council members said they expect a legal battle with for-hire companies after the vote.

But Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said that has been true of a lot of groundbreaking legislation in Seattle history and is no reason to shy away from new laws.

Mayor Ed Murray wrote in a statement after the vote that he has numerous concerns about the legislation, including how much time and money it might cost the city to implement.

Murray said he will not sign the ordinance - but he will not veto it, either, so it will become law.