Don’t Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

More Tech Co. Bus Drivers Join the Teamsters; More Taxi Drivers Protest Uber, Lyft


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Drivers of all types are taking action of all kinds these days, and tech companies are usually on the receiving end of the much-needed workers’ rights grab.

Another group of drivers who shuttle the employees of giants such as Google and Facebook will now officially be represented by the Teamsters Local 853.  The workers with WeDriveU become the latest in a string of organizing drives in response to low pay and unfair work schedules.  

The 110 drivers voted in December, and following verification from a third-party arbitrator they have been recognized by Local 853.  The company also recognized Teamsters Local 117 in Seattle as the representative for Facebook and Google drivers up north.

Rome Aloise, International Vice President and Principal Officer of Local 853, told the press:

“We appreciate that WeDriveU has respected the rights of these drivers to be represented by a union of their choice. This is a good thing for the company, the drivers and Google, who will get well compensated drivers who will be experienced and safe in transporting Google’s valuable employees.  We expect to continue to level the playing field for all these drivers so that they all have good wages, benefits for themselves and their families, and something to put away for the future. This is another step toward bringing the entire industry up to these standards.”

In December, Facebook drivers with WeDriveU negotiated a strong first agreement that secured wage increases, health care benefits, retirement, and numerous other protections.  

Score one for the nascent Silicon Valley Rising movement, which has fought on behalf of low-wage workers in the region who are increasingly struggling with rising rents resulting from the large salaries of tech workers.  The movement is made up of labor, faith and community-based organizations united in opposition to income inequality.  

Meanwhile, in Austin a group of taxi drivers and their supporters rallied outside events at the massive South by Southwest festival, protesting Uber’s attempts to rid the city of criminal background checks for drivers.  The drivers were joined by members of the Texas AFL-CIO, the Fair Trade Coalition, and TNC drivers.  Protestors interacted one-on-one with passersby, sharing their concerns and asking residents to vote in their favor in the upcoming May 7th election. The issue will be on the ballot then.  

The action came days after the Texas Supreme Court rejected Uber’s attempt to strike down the language used in the referendum question, stating that it is final.  Uber argues it is too complicated for voters to understand and will be misleading.

Dave Passmore, President of the Taxi Drivers Association of Austin, told KVUE:

“We’re not asking that they leave, but that they follow common sense safety regulations that every ground transportation driver in the city has to do.”

Taxi driver Nega Taddesse asked:

“I passed through all of the security checks, and why shouldn’t they?  I’m serving the same customers, like they are.”


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