Apparently the workers who drive buses for Facebook employees to the company's Menlo Park facility voted in November to join the Teamsters. They have now ratified a contract with the contractor, Loop Transportation, that hires them. It looks as if they've gotten a good deal:
Not bad. And thus it is not surprising that bus drivers for Apple, eBay, Yahoo, Zynga and Genentech also have decided to unionize by a vote of 104-38. The numbers may seem small, but of such small victories are overall improvements for workers scratched out.
Meanwhile the deal for the Facebook drivers is not yet final. According to PC World:
If Facebook has approval on the agreement, the pretense that these people work for a contracting intermediary seems seriously threadbare. Would "Loop Transportation" even exist without the tech companies? Not likely.
Concurrently, Google and Apple seem to be moving away from the contracting-out model for the services that make possible the tech cocoon. According to the same PC World report, both giants have chosen to take their security workforces in-house, paying better wages and offering better benefits. Good for the workers.
What's happening here? I don't expect corporate high-flyers to assume higher costs out of the benevolence of their hearts. One spur might be union organizing rumblings: a community-labor partnership, Silicon Valley Rising, has come together to encourage more responsible corporate practices.
And I don't think all this worker progress in the South Bay is completely unrelated to the flack the tech companies are catching in San Francisco as their highly paid employees turn the real estate market upside down. Allowing some of their low paid people to enjoy union representation pretty well ensures that many unions aren't going to ally themselves with progressive San Franciscans who are looking for ways to curb the tech invasion. They may still offer verbal support -- after all they represent many middle class workers in San Francisco, especially in the public sector -- but they are not likely to throw down for something highly contentious like a ballot measure taxing speculation in housing.
These things are always tricky. As Derecka Mehrens, executive director of Working Partnerships USA explained:
The same article concludes that maintaining a middle class presence in Silicon Valley is going to pressure from
Just maybe, we are seeing enough economic recovery so as to create an upward pressure on wages which smart organizing can surf toward worker benefits and rights. About time!