Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have been dealt a setback in their efforts to prevent their drivers in Seattle from unionizing.
US District Court Judge Robert Lasnik for the Western District of Washington state on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the US Chamber of Commerce in March to block a Seattle ordinance that would allow drivers for ride-hailing companies to unionize. The Chamber, which counts Uber and Lyft as members, argued the ordinance violates antitrust laws by allowing independent contractors to collude through collective bargaining to fix prices.
Lasnik said in his ruling that the ordinance is an appropriate exercise of the city’s authority. However, a temporary order issued by Lasnik in April blocking the ordinance will remain intact.
The fight over Seattle’s ordinance is part of a bigger fight over what level of benefits are owed to independent contractors in the “gig economy.” Critics charge that Uber and Lyft reap a financial windfall by treating its drivers as contractors and thus avoiding higher costs such as paying benefits, overtime and insurance. If drivers unionize, they would have leverage in negotiating pay and perks.
Full Content: Wall Street Journal