App-Based Taxi Drivers Can Now Unionize in Seattle

February 11, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. union / ˈyun yən / (n.) – a group of workers protecting the rights and well-being of one another
Example: Members of the union agreed to propose a new wage rate to the government.

2. compensation / ˌkɒm pənˈseɪ ʃən / (n.) – the money received for doing a job
Example: Employees are happy with the compensation they receive from the company.

3. passage / ˈpæs ɪdʒ / (n.) – the act of passing a bill into law
Example: Many criticized the passage of the law.

4. opposition / ˌɒp əˈzɪʃ ən / (n.) – expression of disagreement
Example: The company talked to employees who are in opposition to the new regulation.

5. regulate / ˈrɛg yəˌleɪt / (v.) – to control and manage
Example: The government regulates working conditions in all companies in the city.


Read the text below.
Drivers of US-based taxi app services such as Uber rejoice over a Seattle ruling that allows them to form and join a union.

Mid-December last year, the Seattle City Council passed a law that allows drivers hired through smartphone-booking apps to be a member of a labor union. This measure will let drivers negotiate their compensation package with employers.

This law, which is the first in the United States, was proposed by Seattle council member Mike O’Brien. According to him, the primary purpose of the newly-passed ruling is to let drivers have a say on work-related issues that impact them greatly.

Thirty-year-old Uber-driver Saad Melouchi said that he was glad about the city’s decision to put the law in place. Takele Gobena, 26, also a driver for Uber, mentioned that the passage of the law was a victory and a big change for drivers like him. Last year, Gobena was temporarily suspended from driving for Uber after participating in a news conference with O’Brien to talk about the ruling and some issues concerning it.

Uber and Lyft are two of the companies that were in strong opposition to Seattle’s new ruling. They said that the US federal labor law does not allow cities to regulate collective bargaining—the arrangement between employers and a group of employees on matters related to working conditions.

Companies who offer taxi-based app services recently faced criticism from labor activists who said that independent workers employed by these companies are not getting minimum wages and benefits.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think it is a good idea for the government to regulate business activities of app-based companies such as Uber and Lyft? Why or why not?
·         What do you think will be the effect of Seattle’s new ruling on customers?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think many companies nowadays are encouraged to offer their services through apps?
·         Given the chance, what kind of app-based service would you like to offer? Explain your answer.

February 11, 2016