Uber Faces Unionization in Seattle

Uber is now one step closer to unionization in Seattle. A judge threw out a lawsuit challenging a Seattle ordinance that grants Uber drivers the right unionize.

Uber challenged the ordinance which was passed in 2015, last January, The Seattle Times reported. The ordinance has the support of Teamsters Local 117 which apparently wants to try to organize Uber drivers in Seattle.

This is the second challenge to the ordinance that has been dismissed. A lawsuit filed by the US Chamber of Commerce was thrown out by a federal court in August 2016, Fortune reported.

Uber and Unions

Uber’s relationship with the labor movement is confusing. The company has opposed unionization in Seattle; but seems to have accepted a union called the Independent Driver’s Guild (IDG) in New York City. The IDG is affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and not the Teamsters.

It is not clear if the IDG will attempt to organize Uber drivers in Seattle. The IDG appears to be more of an association of independent contractors than a union.

Strangely enough Uber might be willing to deal with the Teamsters because of its delivery business. Uber is testing a grocery delivery service in conjunction with Kroger subsidiary Harris Teeter in Virginia. Kroger owns the Fred Meyer, QVC and Main & Vine supermarkets in Seattle and many of its stores are Teamsters shops.

Uber might have no choice but to accept a Teamsters union if it wants Kroger’s business. Particularly if Teamsters members at Kroger stores refuse to work with Uber delivery drivers.

Uber president leaving

Drivers are not the only disgruntled employees at Uber Technologies Inc. The company’s President Jeff Jones quit after just seven months on the job, Fortune reported.

Jones a former Target employee was a marketing executive hired to soften Uber’s image. His departure came after several scandals rocked Uber including a lawsuit in which Alphabet accused the ride-hailing service of stealing its self-driving car technology.

Jones was widely viewed as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick second in command and head of operations. His departure came right after Uber announced it was seeking a Chief Operating Officer to handle the company’s day to day business.

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