The bus drivers who take Facebook employees to work in the morning and home again at day’s end voted to unionize, the Teamsters union announced Wednesday.
The drivers work for Loop Transportation, a San Francisco company that contracts with Facebook, whose headquarters are in Menlo Park. They have complained of long days, split shifts and wages too low for them to buy homes near their jobs.
Eighty-seven drivers will be joining Teamsters Local 853, Bob Strelo, president of the local, told the Los Angeles Times. He said 43 drivers voted in favor of joining the union and 28 voted against it.
“We are pleased with the outcome and we hope this victory now gives us a foundation and a presence in the tech industry for future organizing,” Strelo said.
Loop Chief Executive Jeff Leonoudakis said his company respects the drivers’ decision. “Even though we don’t feel that our drivers’ interests are best served by union representation, our drivers have spoken,” he said in an emailed statement, adding that they would now begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.
The drivers have changes in mind. A particular complaint is the split shifts, which have drivers take a long unpaid break between driving workers to Facebook and driving them home.
“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,” Cliff Doi, a driver, said in a Teamsters statement. “With our union, we can find solutions to these problems.”
Leonoudakis said Loop is “committed to providing comfortable accommodations for drivers between shifts,” either at the Loop bus yard, which he said has a lounge with bunk beds, or on the Facebook campus.
He also said Loop pays its bus drivers a $17 to $25 take-home hourly wage plus benefits.
The Facebook buses, along with ones that transport Google and Apple employees, have been a source of controversy in the debate over gentrification. Activists, saying that the presence of tech workers is pushing out poorer residents from San Francisco and Oakland, have on occasion blocked the buses from leaving stops in those cities.