Union? Itll have to wait.
Union? It'll have to wait. SPENCER PLATT / GETTY

Late last week, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit challenging Seattle’s ordinance allowing ride-share drivers to collectively bargain. The judge also lifted an injunction preventing the law from going into effect, paving the way for Uber and Lyft drivers to take the initial steps of forming a union.

But a higher court on Tuesday put the brakes on the law again, pending an appeal brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an Uber subsidiary in a second lawsuit against the city. Both unions and business groups are closely watching the legal battle over Seattle’s Uber unionization law, the first of its kind in the nation.

U.S District Judge Robert Lasnik earlier this year granted the Chamber an emergency injunction preventing Seattle from enforcing the law. When Lasnik lifted the injunction last week, city officials gave ride-share companies until today to pass to Teamsters 117 a list of contract employees, one of the first steps towards taking a union vote.

Lawyers representing Uber and the Chamber argued that handing over the list would cause them “irreparable harm,” the same claim they made in district court. “After August 30, neither the courts nor the parties can put the genie back in the bottle,” the lawyers wrote.

The order from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals means that the companies don’t have to hand over the contractor lists, effectively putting the unionization process on hold again. Dawn Gerhart, policy coordinator for Teamster 117, said she is not surprised that the appeals court granted the injunction, but is confident that the higher court will uphold the district court’s ruling.

“It’s unfortunate that [Uber] would rather have long, drawn-out court battles than letting their drivers have a voice and recognizing them,” Gerhart said.

Uber, through a nonprofit called Drive Forward, plans to hold a rally at noon at Seattle Municipal Tower protesting the unionization ordinance, the latest action in an anti-union campaign that began when City Council members started drafting the law in two years ago.

Neither Uber nor the Chamber immediately responded to request for comment.