A Very Brief History of the Uber Kerfluffle and the Seattle City Counsel’s Support of Unions

After both taxi drivers and apps-based drivers for hire formed associations which failed to induce their employers to bargain with them and one Uber driver was deactivated because he appeared on television about this, City Councilmember Mike O’Brien sponsored legislation enabling the drivers to unionize and requiring the employers to bargain in good faith.  This seems to have been the first effort by a local government to assist the drivers in this way. The ordinance was passed unanimously by the City Counsel at the end of 2015 and became law regardless of Mayor Murray’s refusal to sign it.

The City’s Department of Finance and Administrative rules has recently published a set of rules implementing the ordinance, which are set for public hearing on March 21. Previously issued rules can be found on the City’s webpage ; the definition of a driver entitled to vote with respect to unionization seems to be in the eye of the storm. This is a critical issue because it is presumed that part time drivers, who tend not to depend on this income as their livelihood, are generally against joining unions while full time drivers are generally in favor of unionizing.  The existing rule seems flexible, apparently intended to accommodate shifting schedules of many drivers.

Uber is attacking this arrangement in court.  Judging solely from media descriptions and without doing research, the attack seems a bit far fetched.  One of the reasons that Murray did not sign the ordinance was because he did not want to spend money defending it.  I suspect that Uber might be thinking that it is the deeper pocket and may be in a position to out-spend the City in litigation.  Uber apparently contends that the City rule making process is arbitrary and capricious.  This requires a showing that little or no thought went into it and the outcome was significantly inappropriate.  To a certainty however significantly more thought went into this than say Trump’s executive order banning Muslims. Admitting that is a low standard but I’m just saying.

 

A Very Brief History of the Uber Kerfluffle and the Seattle City Counsel’s Support of Unions
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