Facebook shuttle bus drivers can expect higher wages and better working conditions as part of a new contract agreement reached today.
More than two-thirds of about 90 drivers voted unanimously Saturday to accept a contract negotiated by the Teamsters and South San Francisco-based Loop Transportation, which employs the drivers and has a contract with Facebook.
Among the key highlights of the contract: a 10% shift differential on top of significant wage increases, hourly pay differential for drivers who work split shifts, as well as a six-hour minimum for drivers who do not want to work split shifts, as well as contributions to a defined pension.
"These are life-changing improvements for these drivers that because of Facebook will make the drivers more able to live a more sustainable life, support their families, have decent health care and something for the future," said Rome Aloise, International vice president and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 853, who announced the agreement Saturday after nearly a week of negotiations. "We commend Loop and of course, Facebook, who is paying the bills for their acknowledgment that the people that support Facebook need to be included in the American Dream."
Loop-employed drivers who transport employees of Facebook throughout the Bay Area voted for union representation in November 2014.
That vote came after extensive coverage from USA TODAY about tough working conditions for drivers. They sought better pay and compensation for long work days in which drivers work split shifts, one in the morning and another in the evening, but are not paid for the hours in between. Many drivers cannot go home between shifts and may sleep in their cars in between shifts.
The Facebook drivers, who work for Loop Transportation, told USA TODAY about unfair compensation — $18 to $20 an hour — for marathon workdays ferrying six-figure-earning technology workers to and from work.
Under the contract, drivers will have hourly pay of $21-$25, increasing to $22.50-$28.50 in three years. Additionally, full-time employees get paid health and medical insurance for them and and their families, with provisions for part-time workers. Workers also get increased holidays and vacation time, seniority rights, protections for drivers in case the company is sold, as well as grievance and arbitration procedures.
The contract represents a rare advance for organized labor in Silicon Valley and makes sense for Loop and Facebook to accept, Aloise said. "I'm pretty confident that they are going to see the value in being the first company to do this. It's a bit historical," he said.
"I have to say the contractor (Loop) recognized the push to bring these people into some decent wages and benefits that were at least presentable in contrast to the people they were driving," he said.
Loop Transportation and Facebook did not have immediate comment on the contract approval.
Sean Hinman, one of the Silicon Valley drivers for Loop, thinks that Facebook will accept the contract. "It's going to benefit everybody. It's going to benefit Facebook ... (and) Loop because they need drivers and they are going to get them," he said.
The contract should attract more drivers because they see increased stability in the profession, he said. "For whatever reason there's a shortage. What drivers need is wages they can survive on, they need protection, they need a good medical plan and a good 401K plan," Hinman said. "You have this group of people who have made a lot of money on the tech boom and they are holding it. There's an inequality of wealth. And now that the union has stepped up for us for the first time in the tech industry, now drivers are going to see all these benefits/"
The Teamsters are also working drivers of six Silicon Valley-area companies — Amtrak, Apple, eBay, Genentech, Yahoo and Zynga — who also want to join a union.
This contract will likely boost the union's standing in this upcoming Friday's vote among those drivers to join Teamsters 853, says Alan Hyde, a professor at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, N.J., and author of Working in Silicon Valley: Economic and Legal Analysis of a High-Velocity Labor Market.
"The dignity rights like guaranteed pay, ability to select shifts, vacations and seniority sound meaningful," he said, "and so many drivers in the industry lack pensions and health insurance that those rights also stand out in the industry."http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/02/21/contract-reached-facebook-shuttle-...