Uber and Lyft drivers can now form unions in Seattle

Drivers for ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft won their struggle for the right to unionize in Seattle. The city council accepted the motion unanimously, according to The New York Times. The drivers' status as independent contractors would usually prevent them from organizing under US law, but this is the first legislation in the country to extend that option to them.

The Seattle City Council's decision is only the first step towards future unionization. A majority of drivers from each company now need to go to certified nonprofit organizations for representation. Once enough people join, a group could begin collective bargaining for them, according to the Teamsters-backed App-Based Drivers Association.

Experts believe this legislation could spark similar measures in other cities, but it likely faces legal challenges first. The court could decide the regulation breaches antitrust rules by artificially increasing costs, according to The New York Times. Federal labor laws also might not allow letting contractors unionize.

Seattle's ruling is the latest attempt to define how these drivers fit into labor regulations. The ridesharing companies claim the workers' position as independent contractors gives them greater flexibility. However, Uber drivers in California have a pending class-action lawsuit over whether the company should consider them full employees and offer reimbursement for expenses.

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