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Uber and Lyft unionization law clears another legal hurdle [Update]

Uber said they’ll appeal the law


Update, August 3: Uber has announced that they’ll appeal the decision.

“The Court’s decision ignores the serious legal challenges raised in this case about an ordinance that will turn back the clock in Seattle,” said Brooke Steger, Uber General Manager for the Pacific Northwest, in a statement.

“This ordinance was never about benefiting drivers or the community but really about helping Teamsters and protecting taxi companies,” she continued, adding that Uber intends to appeal the case in the Ninth Circuit.

Steger, as Uber has said throughout the process, claims the law adversely affects drivers. Meanwhile, Teamsters Local 117 say the opposite.

Teamsters Local 117 secretary-treasurer John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer in his own statement that the ruling “puts drivers one step closer to being able to freely exercise their right to have a voice and unionize under the new law.”

“We hope Uber will respect the judge’s decision, stop its efforts to block the law, and recognize that, just like millions of other workers across the country, for-hire drivers have a basic right to self-determination and to stand together with the representative of their choosing to improve their pay and working conditions,” said Scearcy. “We will continue to help drivers fight for that right.”

Original article: A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit blocking a 2015 law allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize on Tuesday—although another lawsuit is still pending.

That lawsuit had been filed back in March by the United States Chamber of Commerce, arguing that because drivers for Uber and similar companies are contractors and not technically employees, they don’t have the right to organize. They also argued that the drivers’ collective bargaining would violate federal antitrust law.

Technically, independent contractors aren’t given the same protections as other types of employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—but Seattle city attorneys argued that the city can provide protections for the drivers even if federal law doesn’t.

“[T]he court found that state action immunity applied—basically, that [Washington State] authorized anti-competitive regulation of the taxi industry,” Seattle University professor Charlotte Garden, who specializes in labor law, explained on Twitter.

While the law has overcome this hurdle, implementation is still on hold with other legal challenges still pending.

Another lawsuit filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Freedom Foundation, both of whom support anti-union measures, is still pending. That one also argues that the law violates the NLRA.

Garden noted that a motion to dismiss in the Freedom Foundation case is “briefed and ready to go.”

Uber also attempted to block the law back in March, alleging the law was arbitrary in naming which drivers were allowed to collectively bargain. That effort also failed.

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved the law, boosted by the Teamsters Local 117, back in December 2015.