Facebook shuttle bus drivers want to fight for higher wages and saner hours on the job. And the Teamsters have their back.
The drivers, who are employed by contractor Loop Transportation, voted yesterday to join America’s strongest union. It is an important first step not only for these 87 workers who transport employees of the social networking giant to and from their jobs, but for workers like them toiling behind the scenes in the tech industry.
For too long, many Silicon Valley companies have turned a blind eye to their support staff that help run the show on their sprawling campuses. After all, it’s not as glamorous as developing the next big thing that will have Americans clamoring for more devices, apps or software. But getting workers to work, for example, is a significant issue.
“These companies need to step up and stop demanding the lowest bid contract,” said Rome Aloise, IBT International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 853, which now represents the Facebook drivers. “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.”
Thus far, tech firms have been resistant to such changes. A letter sent by Aloise to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month calling on Zuckerberg to push Loop Transportation to negotiate with the Teamsters received no response. “This is reminiscent of a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants,” Aloise wrote. “Frankly, little has changed; except the noblemen are you employees, and the servants are the bus drivers who carry them back and forth each day.”
The Teamsters, however, are not going to quit. Officials have made clear that they will seek to unionize shuttle bus drivers at Google as well as other Silicon Valley companies. And there are other opportunities for labor as well. Take, for instance, Amazon’s agreement earlier this week with the National Labor Relations Board that allows employees at its warehouses to better communicate with the online retailer about pay and working conditions without fear of retaliation. Many expect that could lead to unionization.
The fact remains that union jobs pay better than non-union ones. At a time when corporations seem content to squeeze every last cent out of its workers, it would be foolish for hardworking Americans – even those working in traditionally labor-unfriendly sectors like tech – not to pursue a future that will allow them to better provide for their families.