SF Board of Supervisors says Google buses need 'labor harmony' 

The board of supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday strongly urging the city’s transit agency to consider “labor harmony” when approving commuter shuttles for partnership with San Francisco.

“It’s important to ensure that the drivers of these shuttles are treated fairly in terms of wages and working conditions,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who authored the resolution.

“Labor harmony” is broadly defined in the resolution, but essentially means this: when the so-called Google Buses go to The City for approval in the commuter shuttle pilot program, the board urges the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to consider if companies have good relations with unions before granting approval.

Though the board has no formal jurisdiction over SFMTA policy, the resolution sends a strong political signal. The board passed it unanimously. despite some contention.

Supervisor John Avalos tried to amend the resolution to, among other things, urge analysis of the commuter shuttles’ impact on city streets and local rents. That would allow The City to charge shuttle providers fees to recoup those potential costs.

His amendment failed to pass in a 6-5 vote.

“While The City continues to be gripped by a debate about the impacts that shuttle system exacts on our public assets, it makes no sense to have a resolution that fails to acknowledge this controversy,” Avalos said.

Shuttle drivers at companies contracting with Microsoft, Apple, Genentech and Facebook all voted to unionize recently.

“The benefits for the workers is they know if they choose to exercise their democratic right to organize a union, that those rights will be respected by the shuttle bus companies,” said Doug Bloch of the Teamster Joint Council 7, which represents 100,000 workers in California.

“There are a couple organizing campaigns happening as we speak, and the workers are afraid of retaliation,” Bloch said. “But that’s what the board addresses with this resolution.”


About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Born and raised in San Francisco, Fitzgerald Rodriguez was a staff writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and now writes the S.F. Examiner's political column On Guard. He is also a transportation beat reporter covering pedestrians, Muni, BART, bikes, and anything with wheels.
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