Seattle will be the first city in the US to let Uber drivers unionize

Seattle’s City Council just unanimously voted to allow Uber, Lyft, taxi, and other for-hire drivers to unionize, the Seattle Times reports.

Because Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors, they didn’t previously have this right — The National Labour Relations Act, which gives employees the right to collective bargaining, does not apply to independent contractors.

Seattle’s new decision makes it the first city to pass legislation to allow it.

Uber’s classification of its drivers as independent contractors means drivers are not entitled to many standard worker rights, like minimum wage or mileage reimbursements.

The approved legislation will allow Seattle drivers join a nonprofit that qualifies as a “Driver Representative Organisation” (like a union). Uber, Lyft, and other companies will have to send the nonprofit list of eligible drivers from Seattle, who it could then contact. If the nonprofit could show that it had the support of a majority of drivers, then the city would have to designate it as a bargaining representative.

The non-profit will then be able to argue for things like minimum wage and paid time off, although those aren’t guarantees.

Uber and Lyft were both opposed to this ordinance, saying that it violates federal law.

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