Seattle City Council says Uber and Lyft drivers can unionize

Jordan Golson

The Seattle City Council has approved a law allowing the drivers of on-demand ride companies like Lyft and Uber to unionize. Seattle was one of the first major cities to dramatically increase its minimum wage, and this bill follows that progressive path by allowing drivers for services like Uber and Lyft, as well as taxi drivers, to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits.

KIRO-TV reporter Natasha Chen tweets that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has said he will not sign the bill, though it will still become law under Seattle's City Charter.

Uber and Lyft both spoke out against the bill

Uber, which has been fighting hard against legislation limiting the flexibility the company says it needs to meet the needs of its riders and drivers, doesn't seem particularly concerned with the bill. With other pending legislation, the company has sometimes rallied its customers to its cause. In a statement, Uber reiterated prior talking points about how it creates "new opportunities" for people to earn a living "on their own time and their own terms" — in other words, as non-union, independent contractors.

In a statement to The New York Times, Lyft spoke more strongly: "We urge the mayor and full council to reconsider this legislation and listen to the voices of their constituents who choose to drive with Lyft because of the flexible economic opportunity it offers."

Some of Uber's drivers have been fighting with the company in court over how the company classifies its drivers as contractors, with a class action suit making its way through federal court in California.

One thing's for sure, Uber and Lyft won't accept the new law lying down — and maybe that's why the mayor has said he won't sign off. When it does become law, Seattle might need an on-demand lawyer to defend it.

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