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Seattle becomes first US city to let Uber drivers unionize

Seattle on Monday became the first city in the U.S. to allow drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize.
An Uber sign is displayed on a driver's car, July 15, 2015. (Photo by Jeff Chiu/AP)
An Uber sign is displayed on a driver's car, July 15, 2015.

SEATTLE — Seattle on Monday became the first city in the nation to allow drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize over pay and working conditions.

Supporters erupted into cheers after the City Council voted 8-0 in favor of the legislation, which is seen as a test case for the changing 21st century workforce. The companies strongly oppose it, and several council members acknowledged there would be legal challenges ahead but said it was worth doing.

The measure requires companies that hire or contract with drivers of taxis, for-hire transportation companies and app-based ride-hailing services to bargain with their drivers, if a majority shows they want to be represented. Drivers would be represented by nonprofit organizations certified by the city.

Seattle has been a national leader on workers' rights, such as gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 and requiring most employers to provide paid sick leave.

Supporters of ride share unionization are seen cheering after the Seattle City Council voted to approve drivers for Uber and Lyft to unionize, in Seattle, Wash., Dec. 14, 2015.