Facebook Bus Drivers Vote to Unionize

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Workers board a private bus at a Muni bus stop at 24th and Valencia streets in the Mission District. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Private bus drivers who take Facebook employees to and from the Menlo Park campus have approved unionizing. Drivers voted 43-28 to join Teamsters Local 853.

Demaurae Houston says he was one of the drivers to vote yes.

"[The] average person on that bus is probably making about $122,000 minimum. And they’re not paying us half of that. So it’s not fair. It’s really not fair," Houston said.

Other drivers are more concerned with working split shifts. Drivers shuttle employees to Silicon Valley from San Francisco, Berkeley and other locales, sit around for five or six hours during the day, then drive workers back home in the evening. The drivers are not paid for that downtime.

The Facebook drivers are the first of the region’s pervasive shuttle buses carrying technology workers to unionize.

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"This is a great day for these employees and for labor and the middle class," said Teamsters organizer Rodney Smith.

Facebook's shuttle bus contractor, Loop Transportation, said in a statement that it is committed to increasing drivers' hourly pay and making drivers comfortable during split shifts.

“Loop Transportation respects the election results and the decision of our drivers who service Facebook. Even though we don’t feel that our drivers’ interests are best served by union representation, our drivers have spoken and we will now begin the negotiation process."

Loop Transportation says that drivers make between $17 and $25 an hour, "among the highest in the commuter bus industry."

The New York Times reported in early October that the Teamsters are also hoping to unionize drivers for Google, Apple and other Silicon Valley companies.

Facebook declined to comment for this story.

Peter Jon Shuler, Alex Helmick and Lisa Pickoff-White contributed to this report.