Uber sues Seattle over organized union effort | KUOW News and Information

Uber sues Seattle over organized union effort

Jan 17, 2017

The global ride-hailing company Uber is suing the city of Seattle. Uber is challenging new city rules that allow for-hire drivers to unionize.

Those rules took effect Tuesday. The rules, set by the city’s Finance and Administrative Services department, allow drivers to vote on whether they want to unionize.

Uber has opposed the effort all along. Now, the company has filed a legal complaint in the state Superior Court, asking for the rules to be halted. Uber claims the city's rules are not comprehensive enough to be put into effect and that the city didn't give the public a chance to “meaningfully comment.”

Brooke Steger is Uber's Northwest General Manager.

Steger: "What they still haven't defined are things around arbitration, what the actual bargaining would look like should a union be voted in. And that's really, really concerning because drivers are going to be asked to sign and engage into a process that has yet to be defined."

City Council members have said unionizing would give drivers more say over wages, work conditions and hours.

At the city attorney's office, assistant attorney Michael Ryan said the lawsuit was not a surprise. But Ryan said they can't comment yet on what they think of Uber's claims.

Ryan: "It's 28 pages long, there's a lot in there for us to wrap our heads around so we're still evaluating it. And the city does intend to defend the city's rulemaking process in this case."

Ryan expects the state Superior Court to hold a hearing on the lawsuit within a few weeks.

The unionizing effort will continue, unless the court rules otherwise.

Paige Browning can be reached at paige@kuow.org. Have a story idea? Use our story pitch form.