Seattle shouldn't try to force unions on Uber, Lyft drivers

As a father with two kids and full-time job, I love the fact that I can choose when and where I want to drive for Lyft. But an ordinance in Seattle could change the face of ridesharing as we know it. And not just for the Emerald City, but for the entire nation.

Fellow drivers in Seattle are in danger of losing many of the freedoms that make ridesharing so appealing. Drivers no longer would be able to work when, where and how long they want. They could be forced into legally binding agreement that mandate minimum or maximum working hours and limit their shifts to certain days or set times.

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The kicker?

 

The ordinance forces every Lyft and Uber driver to join the local Teamsters Union.

In short, it is a union conquest.

The peer-to-peer economy allows us to work when and how we want and to easily move from one business to another. While this is great for entrepreneurs, 20th Century Teamsters see it as bad for them. By giving workers more freedoms, the peer-to-peer economy has removed the need for the Teamsters. Since they failed to kick Lyft and Uber out of Seattle, they now look to force every driver to join their union via a Seattle ordinance to boost their importance and influence.

The ordinance hands over negotiation control over hours, pay, benefits, job mobility to the Teamsters. This means that Teamsters, not drivers, could decide when, where, and how drivers work.

Not joining isn’t an option. Drivers who don’t join and pay dues to the Teamsters can’t drive at all. And drivers should know they shouldn’t sign anything, as the Teamster could count that as a vote in favor.

Moreover, there is no guarantee of Teamster voting rights – would a mother who works two hours a week be allowed to vote? And drivers are locked into their union representatives for three years – eliminating any ability for drivers to oust a representative that is not acting in their best interests.

It’s bad enough that the Ordinance forces drivers to surrender parts of their salary to the Teamsters. But, even more concerning, the Ordinance grants Teamsters access to drivers’ private information as Lyft and Uber are required to disclose to the Teamsters their confidential driver information.

This makes us wonder why the Teamsters need this private information? And what will the Teamsters or city do to protect it?

Although Seattle councilmembers may intend to help drivers, their ordinance is certain to have the opposite effect. Nearly a dozen drivers are speaking up by taking the city to court. Their lawsuit argues that their right to free speech and association has been violated and that the ordinance goes against federal labor and privacy laws.

While the Seattle Ordinance is limited to the city, failing unions across the country are watching Seattle closely to see if they can have the chance to reinvigorate their dried-up revenue buckets. Although the Ordinance went into effect this month, a Washington Court wisely enjoined it – putting a temporary hold an irreparable harm. But this hold can only last so long.

The peer-to-peer economy has provided unprecedented freedom for drivers and riders. We can’t let 20th century labor laws that burdened citizens with unwavering taxi monopolies – across nearly every town and city in the U.S. – make a return.

Seattle – we are counting on you to vote on the side of progress and innovation. The country is watching.

Carl Szabo is senior policy counsel for NetChoice.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.