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Judge pauses nation's first Uber driver union in Seattle

caption: File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
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File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The city of Seattle's law to let Lyft, Uber and taxi drivers form a union has been halted in federal court. The law is the first of its kind in the nation.

A federal judge in Seattle has put a temporary injunction on the policy, which will prevent union officials from starting to contact drivers this week.

It comes after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a small group of drivers sued the city over the law. The Chamber represents Uber and Lyft and wants to halt the driver effort.

The temporary injunction blocking the union process is seen as a setback by local Teamsters representative Dawn Gearhart.

Gearhart: "We're disappointed with the fact that the companies would rather take the City of Seattle to court than sit down and negotiate with their drivers and start improving their working conditions."

But Seattle officials, who backed the law, are optimistic. That's because U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik made it clear that his ruling is temporary. In addition, he seemed skeptical of many of the Chamber of Commerce's arguments.

Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien says that's an encouraging sign for the union process.

O'Brien: "And it's apparent to me in reading the judge's order that he recognizes kind of the novel approach we're taking. I think it makes a lot of sense for him to say, hey let's not get the cart before the horse, let's puts a hold on that process until we resolve the issues."

Judge Lasnik still needs to make a final decision on whether to allow Seattle drivers to unionize. He says he won’t rush the process because his ruling could impact app-based companies outside of ride-sharing.

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