Apple, Yahoo bus drivers vote to unionize

The missing piece of the recovery: wages
The missing piece of the recovery: wages

Bus drivers for Apple, Yahoo and several other Silicon Valley giants have unionized.

The results of Friday's vote means 158 full- and part-time drivers for the tech companies' bus contractor have a new avenue to negotiate wage increases and address a major workplace frustration: the hours-long window between the morning and evening commute for which the drivers sit idle and are unpaid.

In addition to Apple (AAPL) and Yahoo (YHOO), the drivers transport employees of Amtrak, eBay (EBAY), Genentech and Zynga (ZNGA). The drivers will be represented by the Teamsters.

They're following in the footsteps of workers who drive shuttle buses for Facebook employees. A contract agreement -- with significant wage increases, a shift differential and benefits like health insurance and a retirement plan -- between those drivers and their employer was struck about a week ago and is awaiting approval from Facebook (FB).

tech shuttle bus
A protest of the tech worker buses in 2013 blocked this one that carried Apple workers.

The Teamsters announced over the weekend it will also represent the newly-unionized group.

"(W)e call on Apple, eBay, Zynga, Genentech, Yahoo and Amtrak to encourage their contractor to agree to the same economics that the Facebook drivers will enjoy," Rome Aloise, a vice president with the Teamsters, said in a statement.

The employees officially work for Compass Transportation, which has a contract with the six tech companies.

It wasn't immediately clear when the drivers would seek contract negotiations with Compass, which didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Related: Want a raise? Join a union

The buses have come to represent the economic divide between the haves -- like the employees of tech firms -- with the have nots in San Francisco. The employees who choose to live in the city are driving up rents there, squeezing out tenants with means like the bus drivers, and are shuttled miles away to their offices.

Wage data for the Compass Transportation drivers was not immediately available, but Aloise of the Teamsters said the drivers for Facebook are currently paid on average $17.93 an hour. He said the contract would mean wages climb to between $22.50 and $28.50 in three years.

Besides the pay, a major concern of the Compass drivers are the hours they wait unpaid between commutes. The drivers for Loop Transportation, the company contracted by Facebook, resolved that issue with a 10% shift differential pay for drivers who work both commutes. Drivers who handle only the morning or evening will be paid for at least six hours of work, the Teamsters said.

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