Seattle for-hire drivers sharply criticized the US Chamber of Commerce for its complaint filed in federal district court yesterday that attempts to undermine the drivers’ right under a new city law to seek representation of their choosing.

“Uber is using a different shadow to attack us,” said Fasil Teka, an Uber driver and a leader on the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA). “They are trying to stop the right of drivers to be organized and take our freedom away. A lot of drivers are struggling and have to work two or three jobs.”

Taxi drivers also spoke out against the effort to derail the new law. “They want to push us back down and they don’t want us to have a voice,” said Aamar Kahn of the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association. “This prolongs the process and our rights are still being denied,” 

ABDA leader Peter Kuel said that drivers will continue to organize to address their concerns. “The drivers decided to have a union, so nothing is going to stop the union. The union will stay. We’re not going to stop organizing,” he said. Kuel was deactivated by Uber in February, but won reinstatement after the community pressured the company to restore his access to their for-hire driving platform.

Teamsters Local 117, the union that worked together with city councilmember Mike O’Brien to help pass the legislation, also denounced the Chamber for its complaint, calling it a “cynical ploy” to deprive workers of a fundamental human right.

“As our economy changes, we need to ensure that workers’ rights are protected,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Seattle’s new law is smart, innovative policy that helps restore self-determination for thousands of drivers in our region who are struggling to earn a living. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled to just and favorable working conditions. It also says that workers have the right to form and join trade unions of their choosing. The Chamber and Uber have a moral obligation to preserve those rights."

Dawn Gearhart 206-794-6678
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