Seattle OKs 'Bold Plan,' Lets Uber Drivers Unionize

Uber, Lyft, et al, not particularly thrilled
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2015 6:19 AM CST
Not everyone's a fan. Taxis with anti-Uber signs clog a street in Lisbon while moving at a slow pace in protest, Tuesday, Sept. 8 2015.   (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
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(Newser) – In an interesting turn of events in Seattle, the city's council Monday voted unanimously to become the nation's first city to allow ride-sharing services—including Uber, Lyft, and the like—to unionize. As such, reports Gizmodo, drivers will be allowed to collectively bargain for their salaries and working conditions, even though they're still considered independent contractors and not employees. Lyft was less than enthused, saying in a statement that "the ordinance passed today threatens the privacy of drivers, imposes substantial costs on passengers and the City," and "we urge the Mayor and full Council to reconsider this legislation."

Uber, though Wired notes its top flak and ex-Obama heavyweight David Plouffe has called the proposal "flatly illegal," was on Monday more opaque, saying the company is "creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms." Drivers, who have seen rates and incentives drop, appear to like the move.
"Early on, these companies were really great," a driver for Uber and Lyft tells the New York Times. "But when it comes down to it, they keep lowering their rates on us." The proposal was what Wired earlier called a "bold plan" and "clever workaround" to federal law by allowing a certified nonprofit to represent drivers. "It’s clear the nature of work has shifted in part because of technology and in part because there are corporations that don’t like labor protections," the councilman who introduced the plan, Mike O’Brien, earlier told the Times. (Read more Uber stories.)

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