Ninth Circuit Revives US Chamber’s Challenge to Seattle Ride-Hailing Union Law 

Seattle Washington


From the Recorder, Erin Mulvaney reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the Seattle ordinance that allowed independent contractors to organize and unionize violated federal antitrust provisions.  Erin writes:

A federal appeals court on Friday revived a challenge to a Seattle law that would allow ride-hailing drivers to unionize, sending the first-of-its-kind local ordinance back to a lower court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling Friday for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Uber Technologies will put more scrutiny over the viability of local laws designed to provide some labor protections to workers in the gig economy.

The appeals panel concluded the Seattle law violated federal antitrust provisions because the ordinance sanctioned price-fixing in the ride-sharing services industry. The Ninth Circuit partly agreed with the trial judge in finding that the ordinance did not violate the National Labor Relations Act.

Lawyers from Jones Day represented the Chamber, and Altshuler Berzon and the Seattle city attorney’s office divided time for the city.

The three-judge appeals panel argued “the crux of this case” was a provision of the Seattle ordinance that permits independent contractor drivers, represented by an “exclusive driver representative,” to agree on the “nature and amount of payments to be made by, or withheld from, the driver coordinator to or by the drivers.”

The panel—Circuit Judges Milan Smith and Mary Murguia and Eduardo Robreno, a trial judge sitting by designation—acknowledged that the arrival of companies such as Uber and Lyft presented novel legal questions amid labor schemes adopted years earlier.

“The very concept of digital ridesharing services was probably well beyond the imaginations of lawmakers two to three decades ago, much less foreseeable. But the fact that technology has advanced leaps and bounds beyond the contemplation of the state legislature is not, on its own, the dispositive factor in our holding today,” Smith wrote. “Digital platforms like Uber and Lyft have become ‘highly interconnected with modern economic and social life,’ and present novel challenges and contexts for regulation.”

Regardless, the panel said it could not broaden or extend state immunity to “anti-competitive activity which the states did not intend to sanction.”

Read the full story at: Ninth Circuit Revives US Chamber’s Challenge to Seattle Ride-Hailing Union Law | The Recorder

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