Facebook’s shuttle bus drivers want a union to protect them

This weekend, the Teamsters labor union sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, asking to represent the drivers who schlep Facebook employees to and from the campus every day. The union claims that it was writing “on behalf of the bus drivers who pick up Facebook employees from San Francisco, Palo Alto, and a number of other destinations.”

The letter highlights the fact that Facebook drivers aren’t leading the coddled, cushy lives of the rest of the so-called tech elite. The drivers aren’t officially Facebook employees — they’re contractors working for a separate organization, Loop Transportation. In the letter, the Teamsters said the paltry pay is unacceptable. But drivers told The New York Times that the real problem isn’t the pay — it’s the 15-hour workday.

The drivers make roughly $20 an hour, and most of them can’t afford to live in the expensive Menlo Park neighborhood around Facebook’s campus. It takes awhile for them to commute home, so they are stuck hanging out at [company]Facebook[/company] in between their “rush hour” driving shifts, in a trailer provided by Loop or in Facebook’s cafeteria. That’s a 6 a.m. to 9 p.m work day, and it’s an exhausting lifestyle that keeps drivers away from their families. In the letter sent to Zuckerberg, the Teamsters union called this deplorable. “This is reminiscent of a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants. Frankly, little has changed; except the noblemen are your employees, and the servants are the bus drivers who carry them back and forth each day,” it said.

The Teamsters’ letter comes at a time when tech companies are facing criticism over their employment practices. Contract workers do most of the service jobs, from janitorial to security, at the big tech companies. Since they aren’t officially employees, their benefits and pay suffer as a result. After a condemning think tank report highlighting the practice, Google promised to hire its next 200 security guards in-house. Check out Gigaom’s piece on the latest legal battles winding through the Supreme Court that could challenge tech companies’ payment practices.

Facebook has not yet returned requests for comment to any news outlet, although an anonymous source told The New York Times that because these contractors work for Loop, their schedules and pay aren’t Facebook’s responsibility. I’ve reached out for comment and will update this if I hear back.