Drivers Call on City to Take Action to Pass a Driver/Passenger Bill of Rights
Drivers in Seattle’s for-hire industry expressed frustration at today’s ruling by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that partially reverses a lower court’s decision to uphold Seattle’s collective bargaining law.
“Drivers are deeply disappointed with today’s decision, which continues to delay our right to unionization,” said Don Creery, an Uber and Lyft driver and member of the leadership council of the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA). “Anti-trust laws were put in place to protect the little guy from monopolistic practices from large corporations, not to shield a company like Uber – valued at over $70 billion – from negotiating with its workers over fair pay and working conditions.”
"Drivers have already waited for years for fair pay and the right to a union."
Drivers called on the City of Seattle to enact new policies to protect drivers, level the playing field in the industry, and ensure that drivers can earn a living wage. “Drivers have already waited for years for fair pay and the right to a union. Today’s court decision emphasizes the urgent need for the Seattle City Council to step in to improve pay for drivers and pass a Driver/Passenger Bill of Rights,” Creery said.
Because of their disputed status as independent contractors, for-hire drivers who work for Uber and Lyft have not been protected by traditional labor laws or state and local laws, such as Seattle's $15 an hour minimum wage law and Washington State’s new paid sick leave law. In April, the City of Seattle passed a resolution to study the industry and consider regulations that could lead to better pay and other protections for drivers.
In 2014, Uber and Lyft drivers sought assistance from Teamsters Local 117 to improve their pay and working conditions. In May 2014, drivers established ABDA to promote fairness, justice, and transparency in the for-hire industry.
“We are disappointed by the Court’s ruling that continues to block drivers from having a voice,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Like other working people in this country, for-hire drivers should have the same freedom to stand together in their union to improve their pay and working conditions. We will continue to stand with drivers for their right to unionize, earn a family wage, and to raise standards in the industry.”
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.
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
If you want an excellent primer on our fight to organize and improve working conditions for Seattle-area for-hire drivers, look no further than this article that was published today in the American Prospect.
It's quite an extraordinary piece and call our Union - Teamsters 117 - the "spearhead of the battle" to create a more equitable city for all Seattle residents, not just the wealthy few.
It's long, but definitely a worthwhile read.