(Reuters) - Lawmakers in Seattle were set on Monday to vote on a new law that would allow drivers for services such as Uber and Lyft the right to unionize.
Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien’s proposal would provide the drivers with a path to collective bargaining.
It was believed that the Seattle bill, if passed, would be the first in the United States that would allow collective bargaining rights for drivers of such services.
The legislation would also apply to taxi drivers and other for-hire transportation providers.
The council was to vote on the legislation after testimony from drivers for the services and other interested parties.
“All workers deserve the basic rights to organize and to bargain collectively,” the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council said in a letter posted on the city council’s website.
“This is an opportunity for Seattle to once again play a leading national role in promoting workers’ rights,” it said, in a reference to the northwest U.S. city’s progressive history.
Uber operates in more than 300 cities in 67 countries and has raised $7.4 billion from investors. Its war chest has helped fund legal and regulatory battles across the world, and lobbying efforts at the state and national levels.
The Seattle bill is just one of several legal battles being fought by the ride service across the United States.
State legislators in Ohio and Florida are moving ahead with regulations governing Uber and other ride services that would designate all drivers as independent contractors, bolstering a critical but much-disputed aspect of Uber’s business model.
Uber has built its business on the contractor model, arguing that its smartphone app simply connects riders and drivers, who own their cars and pay their own expenses.
Last week, a U.S. judge ruled that many more Uber drivers in California could participate in a class action against the ride service over their employment status, even if they did not opt out of an arbitration clause in their contracts.
Reporting by Chris Michaud