Uber threatens to leave Seattle if drivers can unionize; drivers rejoice

The City of Seattle voted to allow Uber drivers to form a union, and Uber says that if its court challenge to the rule is unsuccessful, it might leave Seattle.

Full-time Uber drivers — many of whom formerly drove traditional cabs and town cars, for significantly higher take-home pay — say that they'll be glad if Uber goes.

Last year, Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin after the city voted to subject drivers to the same background checks as traditional cab drivers. In response, Austinites formed Ride Austin, a nonprofit alternative to Uber and Lyft, which pays drivers substantially more than the earlier services.

Some Seattle Uber drivers — characterized by cab-driver-turned-Uber-driver Navneet Singh as "white people working part-time…doing it for fun" oppose unionization.

The attitudes of Uber drivers at the airport parking lot, where the workforce was predominantly full-time immigrant workers who previously drove taxis professionally, are likely different from the many part-time workers who drive for ride-hail companies for extra income.

"All the white people working part-time are against the union," said Singh. "They're just doing it for fun."

But for full time drivers, who have invested in the company by buying cars, the question of Uber's future in the city and whether they will have a chance to negotiate a better deal is urgent.

"If Uber leaves," said Peter Kuel, a South Sudanese driver, "we'll do our own app and one of us will be CEO."

Uber's Seattle woes: union battle could see company leave another major city
[Julia Carrie Wong/The Guardian]

(via Naked Capitalism)