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Teamsters on a Roll, Organizing More Drivers in Silicon Valley

As Breitbart reported last week in “Teamsters Win Big in Silicon Valley, Target Tech Companies”, after the Teamsters Local 853 organized Facebook contract shuttle bus drivers a week ago, over the weekend they won elections organizing drivers for Yahoo, Apple, Genentech, eBay and Zynga.

Non-union Silicon Valley has supported a left-wing, big government agenda for years, but it will be interesting to see how tech companies enjoy being up front and personal with union “People Power.”

Silicon Valley’s computing and Internet industry’s 2014 investment of $139.5 million to hire 1,094 registered lobbyists paid off big time last week. On Wednesday, The Obama Administration bowed to Silicon Valley’s Mark Zuckerberg by giving “green cards” to over a million spouses and adult children of the 789,000 H1-B holders living in the US. Then. on Thursday, the three Democrat members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted for “Net Neutrality”, giving the federal government the right to regulate and tax the Internet like old-school landline telephones.

Despite Silicon Valley’s universal support for the expansion of government power, tech firms have been almost universally non-union. That began to change a week ago when Teamsters Local 853 won its first election after a year-long campaign to organize Facebook shuttle bus drivers at outside contractor Loop Transportation.

On Saturday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held an election for 158 employees at Compass Transportation, who drive for Yahoo, Apple, Genentech, eBay, Zynga and Stanford University. The drivers voted 104 to 38, or 73 percent to 27 percent, to join the Teamsters union Local 853.

The Teamsters say the domino effect from their victories will allow them to set a standard of wages and benefits for all the shuttle bus drivers who ferry high-tech workers from their homes in San Francisco, the East Bay and elsewhere to their offices in Silicon Valley.

The Facebook drivers said their Teamsters contract resulted in hourly wages rising from $18-to-$20 an hour–for ferrying six-figure-earning technology workers to and from work–to $21-$25. Full-time employees now receive paid personal and family medical insurance, with provisions for part-time workers. Workers have increased holiday and vacation time, seniority rights, protections for drivers if the company is sold, plus rights for grievance and arbitration procedures.

Teamsters Joint Council 7 President and Local 853 Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise said that the overwhelming vote marks a turning point for all of Silicon Valley’s service workers, who cook, clean and maintain security on tech campuses without any of the industry’s famous perks. Aloise added that under the Teamsters contract, a full time driver’s increased wages and benefits are worth about $33,000 more.

“This is systemic change to what is happening in the tech industry,” he said. “Our next step now is to move forward and pick up the rest of the drivers.”

The Teamsters intend to organize more than just drivers. On December 9, the Teamsters partnered with Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH organization at a meeting at Intel’s Santa Clara headquarters to “change the face of the technology sector.” The meeting pulled together representatives from Google, Intel, Pandora, and Cisco to discuss the “delayed inclusion of minorities in the tech.”

The last labor success in organizing Silicon Valley tech companies was the “Justice for Janitors” campaign in the 1990s against commercial real estate interests waged by the Service Employees International Union. In addition, the United Service Workers West union launched a campaign to organize security guards in the Silicon Valley, but that effort has been about calling for Apple to voluntarily choose a union contractor, rather than non-union workers voting in an NLRB election to become union members.

Rainbow Push applauded the shuttle bus drivers’ vote:

“They are setting a new platform for working people in Silicon Valley where they can negotiate for better wages, health care and fair working conditions,” Rev. Jackson said in a statement. “These workers are the heart and soul of Silicon Valley–they have dreams for their families and communities, and are standing up for the dignity and respect they so rightfully deserve.”

It has been a great ride for liberal Silicon Valley’s leaders to advocate, as liberals, that America should enjoy the innovation and core management practices that come with unions, while doing everything possible to keep unions out of their facilities.

With the Teamsters union having broken through and determined to organize everything in tech, it will be interesting to see if Silicon Valley’s politics change when it is able, finally, to “live Jesse Jackson’s union dream.”

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