The Slatest

Seattle Just Became the First U.S. City to Allow Uber Drivers to Unionize

An Uber vehicle is viewed in Manhattan on July 20, 2015 in New York City.  

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Seattle became the first city in the U.S to allow drivers for ride-hailing companies, like Uber and Lyft, to form a union. The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve legislation allowing the drivers, who are considered independent contractors by the companies, to organize. Legal challenges to the measure seem likely given that companies like Uber have pushed back hard against any attempt to treat its drivers as full time employees, rather than independent operators. “Legal specialists said the measure could run afoul of federal labor laws,” according to the New York Times. “Groups of independent contractors engaging in collective bargaining could also run up against illegal price-fixing issues under antitrust law.”

Here’s more from the Associated Press:

San Francisco-based Uber and others say federal labor law prevents cities from regulating collective bargaining, and the ordinance would violate federal antitrust laws. Opponents also argue it would be costly for the city to implement, it would violate drivers’ privacy since their information would be given to the organization, and it would stifle the growth of the on-demand economy. In a response to a request for a comment on the legislation, Uber said in a statement Monday it is “creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms.” San Francisco-based Lyft urged the mayor and council to reconsider the measure and listen to those who seek the flexible economic opportunity the company offers.

“Under the proposed ordinance, the city will give certified nonprofit organizations a list of eligible drivers at each company, and the groups must show that a majority of drivers of each company want representation,” the AP reports. “The organizations would then bargain on behalf of those drivers.”