A Seattle City Council committee denied a request from city staff Wednesday for an additional six months to figure out some of the key issues with the landmark ride-hailing unionization law — instead providing only a two-month extension.
The law was supposed to go into effect in September, but when the City Council passed the ordinance last year, it left many key issues unresolved, specifically who gets a voice in whether drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft should organize and bargain collectively. Those issues were left up to the city’s department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), which asked the council’s Education, Equity and Governance Committee for more time to get additional data and feedback from drivers.
The two-month delay, which would have the ordinance go into effect in mid-November, will now go to the full council.
Councilmember Bruce Harrell called for the shorter extension after learning that city staff was not going to decide which drivers should get to vote on unionization. City staff instead planned additional outreach — primarily in the form of an online survey — that would help the council decide some of those big questions via legislation.
“I thought the department asked to do more outreach, and not a survey, because a survey is not outreach, it’s just data collection,” Harrell said. “Outreach means you roll up your sleeves and you meet with all these parties. You meet ad nauseam if you have to and figure out what works for this industry. And then you negotiate, use the data you extract and come up with a good policy recommendation.”
Implementation of the historic union law has been a struggle for the city. Feedback from drivers at previous workshops put on by the city has been mixed with some favoring giving a vote to every driver, while others prefer a minimum threshold of hours worked or trips driven.