Throughout American history, whenever workers try to organize, they’re opposed by their employers.
That was true in the period of manufacturing, and then with the growth of the service sector. Now, it’s true in the so-called sharing economy.
Seattle [ht: sm] was the first city in the nation to allow drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft, as well as taxi and for-hire drivers, the right to collectively negotiate on pay and working conditions.
Back in January, Uber tried to stop workers from organizing by having their customer service representatives engage in union-busting by reading anti-union statements to drivers.
“Drivers choose Lyft to earn extra money when, where and for however long they can work,” a company spokeswoman told PCMag. “We continue to share concerns raised by city officials that the ordinance threatens the privacy of drivers, conflicts with longstanding federal labor and antitrust law, and may undermine the flexibility that makes Lyft so attractive both to drivers and passengers.”
Now, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is suing Seattle over the new ride-sharing ordinance.
“This ordinance threatens the ability not just of Seattle, but of every community across the country, to grow with and benefit from our evolving economy,” Amanda Eversole, president of the Chamber’s Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation, said in a statement.
“Technology companies are leading the charge when it comes to empowering people with the flexibility and choice that comes with being your own boss, and that is something to be championed, not stifled,” she added.
Seattle’s ordinance—approved unanimously by the city council but opposed by Mayor Ed Murray—threatens the viability of that economy, the Chamber said.
The U.S. economy today is radically different from what it was in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And, yet, some things have not changed: Workers are exploited and they try to organize unions to bargain over their wages and working conditions. Meanwhile, their employers do everything they can to try to stop them.