The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has challenged the Seattle City Ordinance giving drivers of app-based transportation companies that use independent contractors to provide services (such as Uber and Lyft) the right to collectively bargain.  (See our post, Seattle City Council Enacts Ordinance Giving Drivers Right to Collectively Bargain, Legal Challenges Expected.)

On its face, the federal lawsuit seeks to invalidate the Ordinance on the grounds that it violates federal anti-trust law and is preempted by federal labor law.  However, if the Chamber is successful, the lawsuit will have accomplished a much larger goal – the promotion of competition to benefit consumers, the elimination of a major challenge to app-based companies’ business model, and protection of these companies’ ability to operate union-free.

The National Labor Relations Act governs most private sector employees’ rights to bargain collectively. The Chamber argues that the Ordinance is preempted by the NLRA because (1) it attempts to regulate independent contractors who were intentionally excluded from the collective bargaining requirements of the NLRA, and (2) administration of the Ordinance requires the Seattle Director of Finance to determine whether a particular driver is an independent contractor or employee, a determination which is reserved to the exclusive jurisdiction of the NLRB. The Chamber has asked the court to declare the Ordinance unlawful and enjoin its enforcement.

The lawsuit is not expected to diminish the Seattle City Council’s support for the legislation or deter unions from seeking to represent drivers pursuant to the Ordinance. Teamsters Local 117 has publicly denounced the lawsuit as an attempt to derail collective bargaining for independent contractor drivers.  Regardless, given the importance of the issue and the potential economic impact to app-based transportation companies, the litigation is expected to be hard fought.

 

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Photo of Howard M. Bloom Howard M. Bloom

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues.

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification campaigns. He also represents clients at the National Labor Relations Board in connection with bargaining unit issues, objections and challenges, as well as unfair labor practice investigations and trials. Mr. Bloom also has been the spokesperson at countless first and successor contract collective bargaining negotiations, and regularly advises on collective bargaining agreement administration issues, including grievance/arbitration issues.

Mr. Bloom has appeared before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, several U.S. District Courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Mr. Bloom speaks frequently to employer groups on a wide range of labor and employment law topics. He also has written extensively on labor and employment law for a variety of publications, including New England Business magazine, The Boston Globe and the Boston Business Journal. He also is editor of and a frequent contributor to the Jackson Lewis Labor & Collective Bargaining Blog.

While attending law school, he was the Executive Editor of The Advocate: the Suffolk University Law School Journal and President of the Student Bar Association.

Mr. Bloom is a diehard baseball fan. His first book, The Baseball Uncyclopedia: A Highly Opinionated Myth-Busting Guide to the Great American Game, was published in February 2006.

Photo of Philip B. Rosen Philip B. Rosen

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Mr. Rosen also leads the firm’s Labor Practice Group. He joined the Firm in 1979 and served as Managing…

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Mr. Rosen also leads the firm’s Labor Practice Group. He joined the Firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s recent initiatives on protected concerted activity and the proposed Notice Posting requirements.