SEATTLE (Courthouse News – June Williams) -April 5, 2017 – A federal judge Tuesday stopped Seattle from implementing a law allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize, and granted the Chamber of Commerce a temporary injunction against it.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik granted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce a temporary restraining order against requiring companies from turning over driver contact information to the Teamsters Local 117, as was required by April 3 under the new law.
Seattle last year became the first city in the nation to allow for-hire drivers to collectively bargain with employers. The law allows cab drivers and drivers for ride-hail services such as Lyft and Uber to negotiate pay and working conditions.
The Chamber of Commerce sued Seattle in March 2016, asking a federal judge to bar enforcement of the law. That lawsuit was dismissed in August as not ripe for review because the ordinance had not gone into effect.
Last week the Chamber asked Lasnik to block a requirement forcing companies to turn over driver contact information while the lawsuit proceeds.
“Although there is no trade secret protections or confidentiality attached to this basic identifying information, the Court finds that forcing the driver coordinators to disclose their most active and productive drivers is likely to cause competitive injury that cannot be repaired once the lists are released,” Lasnik wrote.
He said the issues raised may affect other sectors of the economy that rely on independent contractors instead of employees.
“The issues raised in this litigation are novel, they are complex, and they reside at the intersection of national policies that have been decades in the making. The public will be well-served by maintaining the status quo while the issues are given careful judicial consideration as to whether the City’s well-meaning ordinance can survive the scrutiny our laws require,” Lasnik wrote.
He concluded: “The April 3rd disclosure requirements are hereby enjoined until this matter is finally resolved. The Court emphasizes that this order should not be read as a harbinger of what the ultimate decision in this case will be when all dispositive motions are fully briefed and considered. The plaintiffs have raised serious questions that deserve careful, rigorous judicial attention, not a fast-tracked rush to judgment based on a date that has no extrinsic importance.”