comscore Council to vote on unionizing by cabbies, Uber drivers | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Council to vote on unionizing by cabbies, Uber drivers

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2014

    In this March 12, 2014 file photo, Katie Baranyuk gets out of a car driven by Dara Jenkins, a driver for the ride-sharing service Lyft, after getting a ride to downtown Seattle.

SEATTLE >> Seattle could soon become the first city to let drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft collectively bargain over pay and working conditions, a move opposed by the companies and one seen as a test case for the modern workforce.

The City Council will vote today on whether to extend collective bargaining rights for drivers of taxis, for-hire transportation companies and app-based ride-hailing services that are part of the growing on-demand economy.

A national leader on workers’ rights, Seattle was among the first cities to pass laws to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 and require most employers to provide paid sick leave.

But Councilman Mike O’Brien says for-hire drivers, as independent contractors, are excluded from such protections. He wants to take the next step in the fight for workers’ rights and give them a say in their working conditions. Independent contractors aren’t covered by the National Labor Relations Act, which allows for collective bargaining.

Many drivers in Seattle are immigrants who depend on full-time work, but some make less than minimum wage and don’t have basic workers’ rights, such as sick leave or protection from retaliation, O’Brien said.

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