Judge Blocks Seattle Law That Would Allow Ride-Hailing Unions

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The city of Seattle's law to let Lyft, Uber and taxi drivers form a union has been halted in federal court.

The law in question passed the Seattle city council in a 9-0 vote back in December 2015.

District Judge Robert Lasnik's temporary restraining order came after the Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit last month, and Uber and Lyft drivers filed another, backed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Freedom Foundation.

The Chamber claimed the law posed an immediate threat to companies like Uber and Lyft because it requires them to hand over the names of their drivers to unions hoping to organize drivers. The first of its kind, the law allows drivers for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to unionize and collectively bargain for better working conditions, earnings, and other benefits. In his ruling, Lasnik wrote the decision to grant a preliminary injunction was not an indication of how he would ultimately decide the case. Disclosing that sensitive information could hurt the companies by potentially making it available to competitors, the chamber said. "The public will be well-served by maintaining the status quo while the issues are given careful judicial consideration".

The background checks were required under a state law approved past year that officials said called for the most stringent background checks in the country for drivers of ride-hailing services.

The Teamsters have been contacting drivers while they wait for the names from Uber and Lyft. City Attorney Pete Holmes said the city will continue its efforts to defeat the lawsuits. The organization argued the law improperly treats independent contractor drivers as employees because it allows them to unionize and collude through collective bargaining over their fares. It has demanded that Uber and Lyft turn over lists of drivers who meet the criteria set by the Seattle law, that they have driven at least 52 times in a three-month period in the proceeding year before October 19, 2016.

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