Drivers of buses for tech workers move closer to Teamster contract

Drivers of buses for tech workers move closer to Teamster contract
By Wendy LeeAugust 1, 2015 Updated: August 1, 2015 3:40pm

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The ChronicleEmployees unanimously voted Saturday to support a proposed three-year contract under Teamsters Local 853 that calls for overtime pay and paid holidays.
Bus drivers who transport workers for large tech companies moved closer Saturday to an agreement with its employer, Compass Transportation, over higher wages and improved benefits.

Employees unanimously voted to support a proposed three-year contract from Teamsters Local 853 that calls for overtime pay and paid holidays. The contract would affect about 180 drivers employed by Compass Transportation/Transdev, which serves Apple, Yahoo, Zynga, eBay, Genentech, Amtrak and Evernote. On Saturday, 75 drivers at a San Leandro union meeting voted in favor of the proposed agreement.

Saturday’s vote was not a binding contract ratification vote, but rather a list of items the union hopes to get, Bryan O’Connell, a senior vice president for Compass Transportation, wrote in an e-mail. The company is still in discussions with the Teamsters that are “constructive and productive.”

“We look forward to our employees having the opportunity to vote on an actual formal contract offer from us in the near future,” O’Connell said.

Saturday’s vote was an important step, union officials said.

“What you are doing today here is a historic thing. You are changing the face of a whole industry,” said Rome Aloise , international Teamsters vice president and the local union’s principal officer, told a roomful of drivers. “We are raising the bar so people in this industry can make some decent money and get decent health care for your family.”

The proposed contract would raise the wages of some bus drivers from their current $17 to $21 an hour to $25 to $29 an hour. It also offers more pay to drivers who work split shifts — dropping off tech employees in the morning and then picking them up in the afternoon on the same day, union officials said. Workers also would qualify for overtime pay, better health benefits and get 11 paid holidays, when now they don’t receive any.

Scott Peebles, a Compass driver who transports Apple employees, said more pay will help him save up enough money to afford a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose. Peebles is living out of his green 1997 Dodge Caravan, sleeping in the backseat.

“I just can’t afford it right now,” 52-year-old said, who had earned $19.50 an hour, until Apple recently increased the pay of its drivers. Now, Peebles says, he earns $25 an hour plus a differential for his split shift.

Peebles voted in favor of the contract because it would provide him a salary during holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving, when Apple employees go on vacation. Currently, Peebles doesn’t get paid for holidays.

He estimates that it will take him three months to save up enough money for an apartment.

Saturday’s vote came after drivers for Loop Transportation, who shuttle Facebook employees, approved a contract with their employer. Recently more than 140 Google Express workers employed by Adecco have sought representation with the union.

Wendy Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @thewendylee