A federal judge has dismissed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit over Seattle’s new ordinance giving Uber drivers the ability to unionize, calling the suit premature.
A federal judge has tossed out the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit against Seattle’s new ordinance giving Uber and taxi drivers the ability to unionize, calling the suit premature.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik, in a written ruling Tuesday, said the Chamber and its members, such as Uber, don’t yet have standing to challenge the ordinance because they haven’t yet been harmed by it.
The Chamber sued in March, asking that the ordinance be declared unlawful and seeking an injunction blocking it from taking effect. The group cited federal labor and antitrust laws and argued the ordinance would slow innovations in the so-called “on-demand” economy.
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Lasnik dismissed the suit Tuesday “without prejudice,” meaning the Chamber will be able to revive it later on.
Seattle’s ordinance is the first of its kind in the country. It gives drivers for app-based, ride-dispatch companies like Uber and Lyft the right to bargain collectively with the companies over working conditions, including pay.
Backed by Teamsters Local 117, the ordinance also covers drivers with for-hire companies and taxi companies.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees most private employees the right to collective bargaining.
Critics of the ordinance have said Seattle lacks the authority to extend that right to independent contractors, while supporters have said the city can do so precisely because the NLRA leaves contractors out.
Deputy Seattle City Attorney John Schochet hailed Lasnik’s ruling.
“We’re pleased the court agreed with us that the lawsuit was premature and dismissed it,” he said.
Dawn Gearhart, business representative for Local 117, also praised the decision, describing the lawsuit as part of a “union-busting campaign” by Uber.
“We’re happy to see that the city was able clear this first legal hurdle in implementing the law that gives drivers a voice in the gig economy,” she said.
A spokesman for Lyft said the company still opposes the steps the city is taking.
“We continue to share concerns raised by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the ordinance threatens the privacy of drivers, conflicts with longstanding federal labor and antitrust law and would undermine the flexibility that makes Lyft so attractive both to drivers and passengers,” Adrian Durbin said.