Much of the fight against gentrification in San Francisco has centered on the high-end commuter buses some tech firms have contracted to bring their employees to work.
Earlier this year, some protesters went so far as to physically block the buses that pick up employees of Google, Yahoo, and Facebook and shuttle them to Silicon Valley.
Tech firms hire private bus companies to make the commute, but they use the same public infrastructure as city buses. In a way, the tech buses have become a symbol of the influence that tech workers and their high salaries have had on rent and high living costs in San Francisco.
And it turns out that the people driving the buses aren’t exactly pleased with the situation, either.
According to a new report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Google bus drivers work long hours for low pay and no benefits.
“They make everything convenient for Googlers, but they don’t make anything convenient for drivers,” former Google bus driver Brandon Barlow told the Chronicle. “There are so many fatigued tech shuttle drivers out there.”
Barlow previously worked for WeDriveU, one of the transportation companies hired by Google to transport employees to Silicon Valley. In August, after a bomb threat on BART prevented him from getting home until midnight, he said he called in to say that he wouldn’t be able to make his morning shift. He was then fired by WeDriveU, he told the Chronicle.
Barlow said he was paid $US18.75 an hour.
One of the main complaints from Barlow and other tech bus drivers is the difficult split-shift policy that often comes into play. Drivers shuttle workers to the Valley in the morning, then kill time for a few hours before battling traffic on the clogged freeway back to San Francisco. According to Barlow, the drivers have access to Google perks like the cafes and gym, but those hours spent on campus in between shifts are unpaid.
Another unnamed WeDriveU employee told the Chronicle that her shifts run from 7 to 11 a.m. and from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. each day.
“I’m killing myself for them for $US19.25 an hour,” she said, adding that sometimes her job feels like “jail.”
WeDrive recently settled a class-action lawsuit that awarded 89 drivers a combined total of $US125,000, an average of $US730 per driver. The suit was filed by a driver who claimed that the company failed to pay for the time spent by employees between split shifts, among other complaints.