A recurring theme of the last five years has been taxi unions trying to force disruptive ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, out of their markets. The on-demand ride service has provided a cheaper, more accessible alternative to traditional cab services, and the unions understood that they presented a real challenge to their livery monopoly.
In most cases, they’ve been unsuccessful. In late 2015, Uber was valued at $62.5 billion, just six years after its creation. It is now in 507 cities and 66 countries worldwide. From Nairobi to Kiev and from Lubbock to Dublin, passengers are shuttled effortlessly by one of the more than 6,700 self-employed Uber drivers worldwide.
But even as China’s communist government approved ridesharing services like Uber, an American city is considering standing in the way of an exemplary product thriving in the emerging sharing economy: Seattle.
Because labor union interests failed at preventing Uber from most cities – Austin, Texas being the most notable exception – they are now working overtime to unionize the contract workers who drive Uber. They’ve worked with liberal lawmakers in the city to impose collective bargaining regulations upon the rideshare community.
If they are successful, taxicab unions would control traditional taxi services, as well as Uber, Lyft and other for-hire companies. They would suddenly have the ability to determine when drivers worked, where they drove and require additional background checks. If any other union-controlled industries are an indicator, labor interests would undoubtedly diminish the quality of service while making rides more expensive.
Jim Swift of The Weekly Standard has more:
“Suffering membership problems and facing pensions financing woes, the Teamsters have found a potential financial savior: Uber drivers and their customers. If they’re victorious in Seattle, expect other friendly legislators in other cities to join the cause.”
Read more about the tactical maneuvering of taxicab unions to expand their reach over at TWS.