Drivers in Seattle’s for-hire industry expressed disappointment at yesterday's order by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to temporarily block Seattle’s collective bargaining law.
“We’ve been waiting for two years to be union, to be human beings,” said Mustafe Abdi, an Uber driver and member of the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA). “They say we are partners, we are not partners. We need medical, we need retirement, we need Social Security. We don’t make enough money, we don’t feel safe.”
Seattle for-hire drivers who work for companies like Uber and Lyft are not protected by traditional labor laws, such as Seattle's $15 an hour minimum wage law and its paid sick and safe ordinance.
"We've been waiting for two years to be union, to be human beings."
Uber and Lyft drivers sought assistance from Teamsters Local 117 to improve their pay and working conditions. In 2014, drivers formed ABDA to promote fairness, justice, and transparency in the industry. They helped pass a 2015 law that gave drivers in the City of Seattle the right to unionize.
On Thursday, August 24, Judge Robert Lasnik of the federal District Court of Washington issued an order that lifted a preliminary injunction blocking the law. Yesterday’s ruling by the 9th Circuit temporarily puts the law on hold again.
“We are confident the 9th Circuit will uphold the lower court’s ruling that gives drivers a voice as intended under the law. For-hire drivers should have the same right to self-determination shared by millions of working people across the country. Like other workers, they should be able to stand together in their union to improve their pay and working conditions,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
“We urge Uber to stop disenfranchising its drivers by trying to block the law. For-hire companies like Uber should welcome the law as an opportunity to forge a meaningful partnership with drivers to improve our economy and raise up safety standards for the public.”
Teamsters Local 117's statement on Judge Lasnik's ruling regarding for-hire law:
We are pleased to see that Judge Lasnik has ruled in favor of giving drivers in Seattle's for-hire industry a voice as intended under the law.
For-hire drivers in Seattle should have the same freedom afforded to millions of working people across the country. They should have the right to stand together in their union to improve their pay and working conditions. They should have the opportunity to contribute to improving safety and reliability to benefit the traveling public. This law enables them to accomplish those goals.
We urge companies like Uber and Lyft to stop their efforts to disenfranchise their drivers by attempting to undermine the law. They should welcome the judge's ruling as it provides them with a real opportunity to partner with drivers to improve our economy and lift up our community.
We thank Judge Lasnik for allowing the law to work as it was intended: as an innovative effort to address the many challenges and injustices facing workers in the on-demand economy. This ruling benefits the community of drivers not only in Seattle, but across the country.
Drivers Call on Uber to Stop Efforts to Block their Right to Have a Voice
Seattle for-hire drivers who are seeking to unionize under the city’s new collective bargaining law applauded a federal judge’s ruling to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenging the law.
“We’ve been waiting for this day, waiting to join the union and to have the right to negotiate with Uber,” said Mustafe Abdi, who has been driving with Uber for three years.
Abdi, who is a member of the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA), listed a number of concerns he and other for-hire drivers would like to address at the bargaining table. “We need to talk about the rates and deactivation and other things. We don’t have medical, we don’t have retirement. We don’t have Social Security. We don’t feel safe when we drive our cars. This is good news for all drivers in Seattle.”
As independent contractors, Seattle for-hire drivers are not protected by traditional labor laws, such as Seattle's new $15/hr minimum wage law and its paid sick and safe ordinance.
"We’ve been waiting for this day, waiting to join the union and to have the right to negotiate with Uber."
Uber and Lyft drivers sought assistance from Teamsters Local 117 to improve working conditions in Seattle’s personal transportation industry. In 2014, drivers formed ABDA to promote fairness, justice, and transparency in the industry.
“Judge Lasnik’s ruling puts drivers one step closer to being able to freely exercise their right to have a voice and unionize under the new law,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “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. We will continue to help drivers fight for that right.”
Drivers will have to wait to exercise their rights under the new law until the court lifts an injunction and rules on a separate case.
Oxford Internet Institute has published “Towards a Fairer Gig Economy”, a collection of articles examining the social and economic problems associated with the “gig” economy. Entries are penned by academics, researchers and include an article written by our Local 117 Association Policy Coordinator, Dawn Gearhart.
"Unions cannot collectively bargain with an algorithm, they can’t appeal to a platform, and they can’t negotiate with an equation."
In “Giving Uber Drivers a Voice in the Gig Economy”, she examines the impact of automatized app platforms on drivers in a system designed to disempower workers. Technology that was welcomed for new opportunities brought with it stagnant problems: falling wages, long hours and poor working conditions. Organizing app-based drivers presents a new challenge for the unions, and yet Teamsters have led this fight.
“Unions cannot collectively bargain with an algorithm, they can’t appeal to a platform, and they can’t negotiate with an equation.”
Gearhart highlights successful efforts of the drivers to reverse adverse effects of the new technology by creating the ABDA association, mobilizing against cuts in pay rates and working to successfully pass legislation in Seattle that empowers drivers.
You can read more here.
Uber drivers at the company office in Tukwila on April 4. The group was there to protest unfair deactivation.
Judge Lasnik Emphasizes Order Should Not be Read as Harbinger of Final Decision
Seattle for-hire drivers who are seeking to unionize under the city’s new collective bargaining law are determined to continue their organizing efforts after a federal district court judge issued an order temporarily blocking the new law.
"This is just going to make us come together and fight more."
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not going to stop us,” said Musse Bahta, who has driven for Uber for four years. “There are so many drivers who are ready to stand up for their rights. We are standing together with our union. This is just going to make us come together and fight more.”
Another Uber driver, Peter Kuel, also vowed to continue the organizing efforts. “The judge needs to understand what we’re going through. It’s too much. We feel the pain doing this job. We are not going to give up. We will continue fighting for those who cannot speak themselves,” he said.
Don Creery, a union supporter who has been driving with Uber since 2014, said drivers are facing so many issues that the ruling would not prevent them from continuing to seek representation.
“There are so many problems. We’re not being paid adequately. That means you work longer hours, which means you’re not safe. We have no benefits – that’s an issue. I work full-time for a 70 billion company. The American taxpayers should not have to subsidize my health care. That’s not right.”
In his ruling, Judge Lasnik made it clear that the temporary injunction should not be interpreted as indicative of a final decision in the case:
“The Court emphasizes that this Order should not be read as a harbinger of what the ultimate decision in this case will be when all dispositive motions are fully briefed and considered. The plaintiffs have raised serious questions that deserve careful, rigorous judicial attention, not a fast-tracked rush to judgment based on a date that has no extrinsic importance.”
For more information, please contact Dawn Gearhart at 206-794-6678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers filled a Seattle City Hall hearing room today to demand better working conditions and a voice.
Drivers held signs that read, "Pro-Union Driver" and "Raise Up Uber: Make Uber Jobs Good Jobs."
The City is in the process of establishing rules that govern its new law that gives drivers the right to unionize. The hearing allowed the public to weigh in on the new rules.
"I came here today to fight for our rights. We need to have a union."
"I came here today to fight for our rights. We need to have a union," said Mustafa Abdi, who has driven for Uber and Lyft for three years. "We need to have the same rights that other Americans who work at other companies have. As Uber drivers, we are slaves of Uber. They can deactivate us whenever they want - we don't have any rights."
Another driver, Abdi Haj, talked about the difficulty of earning a living wage in the for-hire industry.
"Uber doesn't care about its drivers. They just want to dominate the market," he said. "We work 12 hours and make less than $100. That's less than Seattle minimum wage. We have a family to support."
To support drivers in their effort to win a living wage, please sign our online petition at www.RaiseUpUber.org.
Union supporters in the for-hire industry at a Seattle City Council meeting in August last year.
Uber has spent the better part of two years trying to stop their drivers from having a voice.
They have repeatedly blocked their drivers’ right to unionize in the courts, run anti-Union ads in the Seattle Times and during a nationally-televised Seahawks game. They even have their own podcast aimed at silencing drivers.
Instead of raising standards for drivers who have repeatedly decried the company’s lack of transparency, poor working conditions, and low pay, Uber has focused its efforts on making sure drivers have as little control as possible over their own livelihoods.
Uber’s most recent attempt to silence their drivers involves a letter to the City of Seattle contesting our Union’s application to become a qualified driver representative under the City’s new collective bargaining law.Read more
A network of European and North American unions, labor confederations, and worker organizations issued a call yesterday for transnational cooperation between workers, worker organizations, platform clients, platform operators, and regulators to ensure fair working conditions and worker participation in governance in the growing world of digital labor platforms such as Clickworker, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Jovoto, and Uber.
The growth of “platform-based work” poses both opportunities and risks for workers and for society at large, and is a chance for a “co-operative turn” in the relationship between worker organizations and management, according to the document, titled the “Frankfurt Paper on Platform-Based Work.”
The participating organizations made the following joint statement:Read more
When Uber drivers come together and speak out with one voice, good things happen.
Just two days after drivers packed a hearing room at City Hall to demand swift, fair implementation of the City’s new collective bargaining law, the company announced that it would raise its minimum fare from $4.00 to $4.80.
That means that drivers who get dispatched on short trips will see a modest increase in their earnings. As far as we know, Seattle is the only city where Uber is offering a higher minimum fare for drivers.
The reason for that is clear. Uber drivers in Seattle are getting more engaged in the political process. They’re letting the City, the company, and the public know that they want their rights under the new law to be respected.Read more
Drivers celebrating the passing of the historic Seattle ordinance allowing them to form a union.
Taxi, Uber and Lyft Drivers in Seattle scored a major victory this week when a federal judge threw out a lawsuit challenging the Seattle ordinance giving drivers collective bargaining rights.
The judge ruled that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce could not stop the implementation of the ordinance that was unanimously passed by the City Council.
Taxi and app-based drivers have now cleared a major hurdle toward having a voice over their wages and working conditions.
The drivers who worked for years getting the Seattle law passed celebrated the decision.Read more