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Uber & Lyft Drivers Free to Unionize in Seattle

SEATTLE (CN) - Seattle became the first U.S. city to give Uber and other contract drivers the ability to organize unions, after the city council unanimously approved the ordinance Monday.

The law will give all Seattle for-hire drivers the right to collectively bargain with their employers. It covers both traditional taxi drivers and drivers for app-based services such as Uber and Lyft.

Mayor Ed Murray said he will not sign the bill because he is concerned about costs to the city, but the mayor's signature is not required for the bill to become law.

"I said consistently during this debate that I support the right of workers to organize to create a fair and just workplace. I remain concerned that this ordinance, as passed by the council, includes several flaws, especially related to the relatively unknown costs of administering the collective bargaining process and the burden of significant rulemaking the council has placed on city staff," Murray said in a statement.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city would certify nonprofit organizations to represent drivers in negotiations over pay and working conditions. All drivers who have a Seattle for-hire vehicle license and have performed a minimum number of trips would be eligible for collective representation.

The city will provide driver-representative organizations with a list of eligible drivers at each company, and the organizations will have 120 days to demonstrate that a majority of the drivers want to be represented. The organizations can then engage in collective bargaining. The city will review any final collective agreements to ensure compliance with city codes.

Uber opposed the law and said in a statement it is "creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms."

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