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Chamber of Commerce sues Seattle for allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sued the city of Seattle on Thursday over an ordinance that allows drivers of ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft to unionize, saying it violates federal antitrust laws.

Seattle last year became the first U.S. city to pass a law giving drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft, as well as taxi and for-hire drivers, the right to collectively negotiate on pay and working conditions.

City officials took action amid growing concerns about how drivers are compensated. Both Uber and Lyft vigorously opposed the measure, arguing that existing federal labor law trumps local legislation.

The chamber, a federation of more than 3 million businesses, is the newest entry into the growing legal battle being waged by numerous factions in courts across the United States over whether the drivers are independent contractors or employees, and what sort of benefits and rights they should have.

“Seattle and thousands of other municipalities would be free to adopt their own disparate regulatory regimes, which would … inhibit the free flow of commerce among private service providers around the Nation,” according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The chamber is seeking to have the law suspended.

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Uber said in a statement that the lawsuit “raises serious questions not only about whether the city has run afoul of federal laws, but also about the impact on drivers who rely on ride-sharing to earn flexible income.”

Lyft, in a separate statement, said the ordinance “may undermine the flexibility that makes Lyft so attractive both to drivers and passengers.”

The ordinance was approved unanimously by the city council but opposed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

Representatives for Seattle’s city council could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday; officials said in December they were prepared for a lawsuit.

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“We have millions of dollars set aside,” Councilman Mike O’Brien, who proposed the measure, told Reuters.

Richard Reibstein, a labor lawyer who runs the independent contractor practice at Pepper Hamilton, said the law is a threat to all the businesses the chamber represents.

“If a municipality could pass an ordinance of this nature addressed to the ride-sharing industry, it could pass an ordinance of this nature against any industry and all industries,” he said.

The chamber also argues that Seattle cannot make a determination about the employment status of drivers before the National Labor Relations Board makes a decision on the issue. The NLRB is reviewing at least four cases and is expected to make a blanket decision concerning their status.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville and Dan Levine in San Francisco; editing by Grant McCool)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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GOP’s Jim Jordan gets shut down after raging at Trump appointee who called for Kellyanne Conway’s firing

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Wednesday got absolutely shut down by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) after he interrupted the testimony of Henry Kerner, whom President Donald Trump appointed to lead the Office of Special Counsel.

During his opening statement ahead of Kerner's testimony, Jordan bitterly complained about the way conservatives are purportedly "censored" on social media and he said Kerner's recommendation that Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway be removed from office for repeated Hatch Act violations was an effort to "silence" an effective surrogate for President Donald Trump.

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President Donald Trump lashed out at a U.S. women's national soccer team who has publicly criticized him.

Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe, who joined former NFL player Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protest during the National Anthem, strongly denied that she would accept the president's invitation to visit the White House if her squad wins the Women’s World Cup now underway.

“I’m not going to the f*cking White House,” Rapinoe told Eight by Eight Magazine, saying she doubted Trump would risk inviting them. “We’re not gonna be invited. I doubt it.”

Trump has canceled visits by other championship teams, such as this year’s Philadelphia Eagles, after most of the players vowed to decline the invitation.

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Damning new details emerge on letter Trump drafted that explicitly linked Comey’s firing to Russia probe

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The latest report from journalist Murray Waas in the New York Review of Books offers damning new details about a letter that President Donald Trump drafted that explicitly linked the firing of former FBI Director James Comey to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Waas, who claims that he has personally examined the draft, reports that the original draft of Trump's letter justifying Comey's dismissal made it plain that he was displeased with the FBI for investigating whether the Trump campaign helped Russia interfere in the election.

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