Facebook Drivers Vote To Join Teamsters 853

Facebook shuttle drivers vote to unionize with IBT 853
By Patrick Maypmay@mercurynews.com
POSTED: 11/19/2014 06:36:58 PM PST1 COMMENT| UPDATED: 67 MIN. AGO
Facebook shuttle drivers voted on Wednesday to unionize, triggering what some believe could be an organizing trend among service workers who perform many of the utilitarian duties that help keep Silicon Valley's tech boom on track.

The 43-28 vote by drivers with Facebook's shuttle-bus contractor, Loop Transportation, to join the Teamsters Local 853 was viewed as a possible flip-switch on union organizing among drivers for other tech companies like Google and Apple. Some of the 84 part- and full-time Facebook drivers have complained for months about how their $18-an-hour wage and split shifts make surviving in one of the nation's most expensive regions a daily struggle. Many drivers say they have to sleep in their cars or at Loop's shuttle yard in the hours between bringing Facebook employees to work each morning and then picking them up in the afternoon.

The fact that the average Facebook software engineer makes almost $120,000 year, according to Glassdoor, made their own modest wages seem even more offensive, the drivers said.

"This is the change we've been waiting for, but we'll see what happens when we start negotiating a contract," said elated driver Cliff Doi. "That's when the real battle begins. We just hope the rest of the shuttle drivers around the Bay Area will join us in our fight."

Loop's vice president, Blake Rhodes, said after the vote that "Loop Transportation respects the election results and the decision of our drivers who service Facebook. Even though we don't feel that our drivers' interests are best served by union representation, our drivers have spoken and we will now begin the negotiation process."

Representatives with the National Labor Relations Board could not be reached immediately after the vote for comment.

Teamsters representative Rome Aloise said the company's efforts to discourage drivers from voting in the union had failed.

"I believe this fight will now move to other companies in the Valley," said Aloise, secretary-treasurer for Local 853. "And we'll set a pattern where so that all these dot-com companies can make sure the people who support them as they make billions of dollars in profits will be provided in a decent fashion to be able to support their families."

With Wednesday's vote, the next step is a seven-day timeout when either or both parties may challenge the results, said Tim Peck, assistant to the regional director for the National Labor Relations Board's San Francisco office. His office oversaw the vote.

Peck said that such challenges are rare, occurring only in about 15-20 percent of all union votes. He said sometimes one side or the other will object when "someone feels the vote was unfair. That triggers an investigation into the process."

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689 or follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc

Facebook Drivers Vote To Join Teamsters
NOVEMBER 19, 2014
Drivers With Facebook Contractor Loop Trans. Win Teamsters Local 853 Representation, Look Forward To Improvements
Rome Aloise
Email: raloise@teamsters853.org
Phone: (510) 895-8853
(WASHINGTON) – Drivers who shuttle Facebook employees to and from the company headquarters in Menlo Park., Calif., have voted in favor of representation by Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif.
The 87 drivers, employees of Loop Transportation, organized to improve their working conditions, including low pay and an abusive split shift schedule.
“The only way that Loop will listen to us is with a union and a collective voice. I’m very relieved that we have that now,” said Demaurae Hooston, a driver.
Loop Transportation is one of a number of operators that Silicon Valley companies contract with to provide transportation for their employees.
“These companies need to step up and stop demanding the lowest bid contract. They need to all agree to pay their contractors an amount that allows the union to negotiate for decent wages and benefits. Of all the industries in the world, the tech industry can afford to compensate those that help make them successful,” said Rome Aloise, International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 853. “We’re ready to get to work at Loop to help these drivers better their lives and the conditions they face at work - to get them some justice.”
The effort of Facebook drivers to organize a union has drawn attention from all over the world. Drivers are forced to work split shifts, often waiting six hours in between picking up and dropping off Facebook employees—all unpaid. The drivers often start work at 6 a.m. and end the day at 9:45 p.m.
“We can’t continue 16-hour days, having drivers sleeping in the cold in their cars while we wait five hours to be able to start our next shift. It’s inhumane,” said Cliff Doi, a driver. “With our union, we can find solutions to these problems.”
Yesterday, a rally was held outside Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, Calif., where community, political and religious leaders and Teamsters demanded that Facebook respect the rights of its bus drivers to organize a union without interference.
“These drivers are part of the invisible work force that makes Silicon Valley run,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA, a community group that participated in the rally. “They are members of our communities that work hard every day, but live in poverty, and the business model of tech companies like Facebook counts on that. Tech companies write the checks to subcontractors who hire these drivers and the thousands of other service workers who make these tech giants able to function. They need to set the standards, too, and say ‘no’ to poverty jobs.”
The delegation delivered a petition containing thousands of signatures, calling on Facebook to stop condoning anti-worker, anti-union behavior by Loop Transportation. Facebook refused to accept the petition when it was delivered.
To view the petition, go to: http://act.credoaction.com/sign/facebook_bus_drivers.
In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dated October 2, Aloise wrote, “This is reminiscent of a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants. Frankly, little has changed; except the noblemen are your employees, and the servants are the bus drivers who carry them back and forth each day.”
The letter to Zuckerberg and a letter to the company as well as the stories of drivers can be seen at http://teamster.org/facebook-drivers-deserve-union.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.