File illustration picture showing the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt court earlier this month instituted a temporary injunction against Uber from offering car-sharing services across Germany. San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers – an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files (GERMANY – Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

Uber has sued the city of Seattle. The topic of contention is whether its drivers can unionize or not. While the city says that they can, Uber has challenged its authority to implement the law. The case is important because it could set a precedent that drivers from Uber, Lyft, Ola and other ride-sharing apps elsewhere could follow as well.

The law, which was passed in the Seattle city council unanimously, allows drivers belonging to ride hailing services like Uber, Lyft etc. to unionize. The unionization is expected to allow them better purchase in bargaining for things like better working conditions and other benefits. Understandably, Uber is not very keen on having its drivers band together.

The bill was passed back in 2015. It saw cab hailing companies united in their opposition. Initially, Lyft and Uber decided to support a lawsuit brought in by the US Chamber of Commerce — which is known for being anti-union in nature. However, that lawsuit was declined by a judge and Seattle started implementing the law. The city published a slew of literature on the topic including how an organization can get certified to represent a body of workers.

Meanwhile, Uber has now filed a lawsuit against the law and will fight to get it put on hold. The company has always declined that it is a regular employer — instead opting to chose the term digital platform or facilitator.  As such, drivers banding up isn’t really something the company would be very keen on handling. it could also set a dangerous precedent drivers elsewhere could follow.

Unions while good for employees are not particularly good for businesses and as such they wouldn’t really be to the liking of platforms cab aggregators — which are essentially all about business. And you can’t really expect driver unions to be thrilled with all these driver-less fleets that companies like Uber and Lyft are said to be working upon.

Implementation of the law could also give drivers in other states and countries some ideas of their own — ideas that I am sure Uber or Lyft or most any aggregator, wouldn’t want putting into their heads. Unionizing after all, is only one step from a recognition as employees and another step, from all the assorted benefits and amenities that these companies will then have to provide to their drivers.

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