Apple to raise drivers' wages, after demands to share its wealth

The company said last week it would directly employ a number of security guards rather than use guards placed by contractors

Apple has decided to increase hourly wages by about 25 percent and offer other perks for its contract drivers in the Bay Area, in response to demands from workers in the area for better terms.

The move comes ahead of the company's shareholder meeting on Tuesday, which civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson is attending, according to his Rainbow Push Coalition.

Jackson, who has backed the demands of contract workers, is also likely to press Apple to outline its plans to employ more women, blacks and Latinos in its tech and general staff. This has been a long standing demand of the leader who has previously attended shareholder meetings of other tech companies including Hewlett-Packard.

Drivers, security guards and similar categories of workers in Silicon Valley, usually supplied by contractors, have been demanding that tech companies share their wealth and provide better working conditions to contract workers. The workers have been hit by the high costs in the valley as a result of the influx of well-paid tech employees.

Tech companies are slowly changing their policies to accommodate the workers' demands. Apple said earlier this month it would hire directly for a number of security positions for its Silicon Valley operations, rather than use guards placed by contractors.

Shuttle drivers at Facebook recently concluded a deal with contractor Loop Transportation which could significantly boost wages and other benefits. The agreement has been sent to Facebook for approval.

Google changed its policy on hiring security guards in October to have guards directly on its payroll, rather than have them placed by contractors.

A report in August by community labor organization Working Partnerships USA had highlighted the plight of "invisible" workers in Silicon Valley, such as as landscaping workers, janitors, cooks and security guards that help keep the tech industry running.

"Over 5,000 Apple employees in the Bay Area take advantage of our commute alternatives program every day," an Apple spokeswoman wrote Monday in an email.

The company is now working with the bus companies to help make a number of changes for the more than 150 drivers of its commute shuttles, including funding a 25 percent increase in hourly wages, premium pay for coach and shuttle drivers who work split shifts, and improving the driver break and rest areas, she added.

Drivers who shuttle employees of Apple, Yahoo, Zynga and eBay decided to unionize recently with Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro. They work for Compass International, which has service agreements with these tech companies.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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