The Teamsters Take on Tech Shuttle Unions

By Julia Carrie Wong : sfweekly – excerpt

When the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s controversial pilot program to allow Google buses (and Yahoo buses and Apple buses and Facebook buses) to use Muni stops for a small fee went before the SFMTA board in January 2014, neither Google, Yahoo, Apple, nor Facebook showed up to speak in defense of their commuter programs. The titans of Silicon Valley rarely stoop to conquer local regulatory bodies. Instead, the strongest voice in favor of tech shuttles that day came from Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, the luxury bus and limousine company founded by Novato-born Gary Bauer in 1989. Over the course of the contentious hearing, representatives from Bauer’s touted their company as an important job provider to working class San Franciscans.

Bauer’s enjoys a cozy relationship with San Francisco’s political establishment. A Bauer’s VP stood behind Mayor Ed Lee when Lee announced the shuttle program in 2014, emails later revealed that Bauer’s believed it had a “handshake agreement” with the SFMTA to use Muni stops free of charge for the 10 years prior to the Google bus backlash, and Bauer’s buses ferried attendees at this year’s US Conference of Mayors from the Hilton to a tour of Uber’s headquarters. (Bauer’s did not respond to inquiries for this story.)

But that relationship is about to be tested by the Teamsters union, which is determined to ensure that the jobs created by tech shuttle companies are union jobs…

It’s a major vindication for the Teamster’s that on Aug. 21, the NLRB filed a petition for a 10(j) against Bauer’s, alleging that the company was guilty of the “unlawful foisting upon its employees of a textbook, sham ‘company union.'” The NLRB’s petition accuses Bauer’s of “making a mockery” of workers’ rights, describes the PCDU as a “charade,” and criticizes Bauer’s “carefully orchestrated scheme to prevent unionization.”

According to the petition, Bauer’s acted on the advice of its legal counsel, which explained to Bauer’s how to go about forming a company union. A Bauer’s supervisor, Clarence Murdock, persuaded employees to sign a blank piece of paper, “not disclosing that their signatures would be used to furnish a veneer of legitimacy to Bauer’s recognition” of the faux-union. Bauer’s then recognized the union and imposed a collective bargaining agreement — without any input from the workers supposedly being represented.

These charges come, not from the union, but from a federal agency, which states that “the facts overwhelmingly demonstrate” violations of the law by Bauer’s.

“Bauer knew a union campaign was inevitable, and sought an alternative he could control,” the petition states.

That may sound like John D. Rockefeller, but Gary Bauer is no John D. Rockefeller.

As for the Teamsters, at the SFMTA meeting, Doug Bloch warned the board members: “This fight is coming to Muni stops. It doesn’t look like it’s going away, and we’re not going away.”… (more)

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