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Originally published Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 8:37 PM

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Uber drivers to form association after arbitrary shift cuts

Drivers for Uber and uberX say they’ll form an association with the Teamsters union to protect drivers rights and safety and represent them as the city of Seattle negotiates with ride-service companies over new regulations.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Drivers for the ride services Uber and uberX plan to form an association to protect their rights and improve safety as the city of Seattle negotiates with taxi and ride-service organizations over proposed new regulations.

About 250 drivers are expected to attend an organizing meeting Sunday at Teamsters Local 117 headquarters in Tukwila. Drivers say they’ve been arbitrarily cut from active duty and told they have to provide their own liability insurance.

“I don’t have anyone to speak on my behalf,” said Ydediya Seifu, a former Uber driver who said he was deactivated when he questioned some management decisions. “We need protection.”

The Teamsters can’t represent the ride-service drivers — they’re independent contractors — but the union can help them with organizing, legal issues and communications, said Paul Zilly, director of communications for the Teamsters. He said the union is representing taxi operators in the ongoing talks with the city over ride service regulations.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray set a 45-day deadline to reach an agreement with Lyft, Uber, Sidecar and taxi companies over regulations passed by the City Council in March.

Those rules would limit the number of ride-service drivers for each company to 150 at a time and require vehicle inspections, driver training and liability insurance.

Those provisions were suspended in April when the ride-service companies submitted more than 36,000 signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot to repeal the new regulations.

The companies are currently operating illegally. Murray has said he will shut them down if an agreement can’t be reached.

Dawn Gearhart, business representative for Teamsters Local 117, said the ride-service companies are focused on their profits, which mean a maximum number of drivers on the street, but not on whether there are so many that individual drivers can’t make a living.

She said that if the Uber drivers approve the new association Sunday, the Teamsters can represent them in the city negotiations, in addition to taxi operators.

A representative of Uber could not be reached for comment.

Lynn Thompson: lthompson@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8305. On Twitter @lthompsontimes



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