Attorneys for the Freedom Foundation have joined forces with the Washington, D.C.-based National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to file a federal lawsuit to prevent the forced unionization of Uber and Lyft drivers in Seattle.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of 11 independent contractors working with the two for-hire ride-sharing services. It alleges an ordinance passed by the city of Seattle in 2015 illegally targets independent workers for compulsory representation by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 117.
The bill authorizes unionization through the coercive and unreliable card-check system as opposed to a secret ballot vote, and allows union officials to make payment of union dues or fees mandatory, even for drivers who oppose union representation.
Under “card check,” cards solicited and collected from individuals by professional union organizers are counted as “votes” for unionization, despite numerous examples of workers signing the cards as a result of being pressured, misled, threatened or even bribed.
The drivers’ federal lawsuit argues the Seattle ordinance is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and that imposing union representation and forced dues on them violates their First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association.
“The Seattle City Council often forgets where its authority ends and where the unions’ begins,” said David Dewhirst, Freedom Foundation litigation counsel. “The Teamsters are an independent, nongovernmental entity selling a product – representation. And no one should be forced to buy it if they don’t want to.
“Elections can’t force people to waive their Constitutional rights,” he said. “That’s the whole point of the Constitution. Every American citizen has the right to exercise their freedoms of speech and association, regardless of the wishes of the union – or, for that matter, the city.”
On Tuesday, officials from Teamsters Local 117 filed a notice of their intent to unionize drivers associated with Uber and Lyft, as well as Eastside Town Car and Limousine, LLC.
The three companies now have until April 2 to turn over to the union the drivers’ personal contact information.
These drivers are filing their lawsuit now because they have a limited window before their personal information will be forcibly delivered to union officials against their wishes.