The Seattle City Council voted on December 14th to allow for-hire drivers working for companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize within the city, though those companies are against the idea.
Ride-hailing apps like Uber are a growing part of the economy, with huge profits based in part on low wages for workers. Uber especially has faced hurdles in Europe recently as numerous countries push back against the company over their employment practices.
Independent contractors, like those employed by these companies, aren’t covered by the National Labor Relations Act, which means they don’t normally qualify for collective bargaining. This means they can’t unionize and therefore cannot protect themselves from predatory employers who would take advantage of them.
Anyone familiar with labor history knows that unions are good for business, for workers, and for the economy in general. When workers can’t make enough to live on, the economy takes a hit.
Either way, Uber et. al are upset about the ordinace, and Mayor Ed Murray isn’t all that pleased with it. While Murray supports protecting these workers’ rights, he isn’t happy with some aspects of the ordinance. None of that seems to bother the City Council, though, which passed an ordinance for a $15 minimum wage and has one of the few openly socialist members in the country. They also successfully argued that, despite using a franchise system, McDonald’s supports its stores enough that they count as being part of that corporation, and therefore are part of the fast track to that $15 minimum wage.
Seattle has proven that the city isn’t afraid of corporations. The minimum wage raise is working out fine so far and has been applauded by people around the country and the world.