Judge puts Seattle law allowing ride-hailing union on hold

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Judge puts Seattle law allowing ride-hailing union on hold

Uber officials criticized the screening process as "unfair and unjust" to drivers. California passed a law last year that requires such companies to search for violent convictions throughout a potential driver's entire record, not just offenses that occurred in the past seven years.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert S. Lasnik ruled in favor of a request by the Chamber to halt the law until the case is settled in court.

Last week the Chamber asked Lasnik to block a requirement forcing companies to turn over driver contact information while the lawsuit proceeds. The Chamber, which counts ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft as members, argued the ordinance violates antitrust laws by allowing independent contractors to collude through collective bargaining to fix prices.

"The court emphasizes that this order shall not be read as a harbinger of what the ultimate decision in this case will be", Lasnik wrote in his ruling. It has demanded that Uber and Lyft turn over lists of drivers who meet the criteria set by the Seattle law, that they have driven at least 52 times in a three-month period in the proceeding year before October 19, 2016.

In court, both the Chamber and the Uber drivers argue that federal law, the National Labor Relations Act, does not give contractors the right to unionize and that it can not be pre-empted by Seattle's law.

Brooke Steger, a general manager for Uber, said: "The court recognized the complexity of the issues and the imminent risk to drivers, transportation companies, and the people of Seattle if the ordinance were allowed to proceed without careful legal review". "Whether existing state law covers, or was meant to cover, the sort of regulation the city attempts through the ordinance is far from clear". Seattle's lawyers disagreed and say allowing drivers to bargain over their working conditions will make the industry safer and more reliable. They said it would stifle growth of the on-demand economy. The judge said the chamber was unlikely to succeed on those claims or its chances were not clear but he put the law on hold because the lawsuits raised serious questions. He said he felt encouraged by the judge's comments that the city's law was prompted by "reasonable public policy concerns". Based on legal documents, the union believes Uber has at least 14,000 drivers in Seattle.

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