Judge Tosses Final Lawsuit Against Ordinance Allowing Rideshare Drivers to Unionize – Seattle Weekly

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Late Thursday afternoon, for the second time this month, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik dominated in favor of Seattle’s for-rent driver collective bargaining ordinance. The ruling strikes down the ultimate lawsuit towards the controversial, first-in-the-nation regulation, which has been mired in various authorized battles because it first handed in 2015.

The regulation permits Uber, Lyft, and different for-rent drivers—unbiased contractors, not staff—to type a union and collectively discount for higher working circumstances. Despite strong disagreements late final yr relating to how, precisely, the regulation ought to play out, the town’s rules have since been finalized: Drivers who’ve been working for a minimum of three months and have made 52 journeys inside a 90-day interval qualify for union membership. But pending a number of lawsuits, Lasnik had issued an injunction that prevented the town from shifting ahead with implementation. Now, he has dissolved the injunction, and the trail is obvious.

“The court cleared the way for the City to implement its first-in-the-nation law,” stated City Attorney Pete Holmes in a press release. “In so doing, the court recognized the public importance of maintaining and promoting the safety and reliability of the for-hire transportation industry in the City of Seattle, goals which this law advances. We are very pleased with the court’s decision and will continue to vigorously defend this publicly important law on appeal.”

Thursday’s ruling applies to a lawsuit introduced by 11 Uber drivers, represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, who argued that the regulation violated each their free speech rights underneath the First Amendment and the National Labor Relations Act by primarily compelling drivers to turn into a part of the union (and thus pay dues), even when they didn’t need to. Lasnik struck down these claims, asserting that there’s nothing within the ordinance that restricts their freedoms of speech and affiliation and nothing that permits the union—on this case, Teamsters Local 117—to pressure drivers to be a part of.

In early August, one other lawsuit, introduced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was struck down as a result of, Lasnik discovered, the collective bargaining ordinance doesn’t violate federal antitrust legal guidelines, both. That case has already been appealed, however thus far, there’s no injunction that forestalls the town from shifting ahead.

Still, it’s attainable, if unlikely, that Thursday’s ruling might be appealed, too. If that occurs, there’s a risk that the plaintiffs might persuade a decide to difficulty yet one more injunction, once more stopping the town’s implementation of the ordinance. Of course, the town would oppose such an injunction, stated Kimberly Mills, spokesperson for the City Attorney’s workplace, and can proceed to defend the ordinance, it doesn’t matter what.

Uber, naturally, isn’t completely satisfied; the corporate has lengthy stood in opposition to the regulation. “The court’s ruling is not surprising,” stated Brooke Steger, Uber General Manager for the Pacific Northwest, in a press release. “Unfortunately, if allowed to stand, thousands of drivers will be negatively impacted. The original ordinance passed by the City Council was never about benefiting drivers, but about helping Teamsters and taxi companies. We will continue fighting to protect independent drivers and prevent turning back the clock on transportation in Seattle.”

Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy used comparable language (and referred to as out Uber) when he applauded Lasnik’s first ruling in early August. “We hope Uber will respect the judge’s decision, stop its efforts to block the law, and recognize that, just like millions of other workers across the country, for-hire drivers have a basic right to self-determination and to stand together with the representative of their choosing to improve their pay and working conditions,” he said on the time. “We will continue to help drivers fight for that right.”

sbernard@seattleweekly.com




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