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Shuttle bus drivers serving Apple, other Silicon Valley tech companies look to unionize

A Teamsters representative last week notified the CEOs of Apple, Amtrak, eBay, Genentech, Yahoo and Zynga that shuttle bus drivers contracted to service their employees are seeking to unionize.



According to Teamsters Local 853 International vice president and secretary-treasurer Rome Aloise, a majority of drivers working for Compass Transportation have signed union authorization cards, reports USA Today. Compass currently employs about 120 full-time and part-time drivers to shuttle workers at Apple and other tech companies back and forth between work and home.

"The drivers at Facebook, by voting for the union, sparked the interest of the drivers from the other companies, for sure," Aloise said, referring to the recent unionization of drivers serving the social media giant.

The impetus behind shuttle drivers' push toward unionizing is pay. For example, drivers working for Loop Transportation, the company contracted by Facebook, make $18 to $20 an hour and have to work "marathon" shifts. By comparison, Compass drivers work 12- to 16-hour split shifts morning and night. The drivers are looking for pay commensurate with the affluent status of tech companies to which they are contracted.

In his notes to Silicon Valley CEOs, including Apple chief Tim Cook, Aloise hopes to curry favor with the influential tech companies, which would in turn put pressure on Compass to enter negotiations.

"Compass Transportation has already begun to employ union-busting methods in an attempt to discourage its employees from seeking the advantages that come with representation," Aloise wrote. "You can make a difference in what will certainly turn to threats, coercion and intimidation tactics by Compass as it escalates its campaign to keep its employees unrepresented."

At the heart of the matter is a huge wage disparity between workers with non-skill jobs, like drivers and security guards, and tech employees earning six-figure salaries. Also an issue is the so-called "gentrification" of San Francisco, where longtime residents are being displaced by wealthy tech workers.

In November, unions pushed Apple for better treatment of security guards contracted to patrol the company's campus. Again, in this case better treatment refers to higher wages.