Fasil Teka knew they’d won before the Seattle City Council even voted.
On Monday afternoon, Seattle became the first city to allow taxi, for-hire, and app-based drivers to unionize. The vote from the city council was unanimous.
The ordinance requires that companies share contact information so union reps can contact drivers, who were previously deemed contractors and not allowed to organize, to collectively bargain on wages and working conditions. Teka, an Uber driver who has worked on this effort to unionize for the last two years through the App-Based Drivers Association, said City Hall was filled with joyous Uber and Lyft drivers.
“We declared victory before they even made the vote, since every councilperson said how they supported the ordinance,” says Teka, who’s driven with the company for four years. “We were clapping the whole time. Then eight out of eight passed it and everybody was screaming and yelling, clapping and hugging.”
Teka has been in Seattle since 1990, when his family emigrated from Ethiopia. He says many Uber drivers, like him, were not born in the U.S. But unlike some of those drivers, he says, he can speak English well and voice his desire for more rights as an employee.