March 25, 2011: Teamster school bus drivers are organizing for change in New York Local 854—including at Outstanding Transport where for years the company has gotten away with paying drivers no overtime pay and paying bus aides less than the minimum wage.
Members at Outstanding met with TDU and launched a plan to enforce their rights—including group grievances, outreach to the media, and an investigation by the state Department of Labor into the company’s wage and hour violations.
Unhappy, the company pushed back by firing Kim Session, one of the workers who has been at the center of members’ organizing.
But Session is back on the job, with full back pay, thanks to solidarity from TDU and 854 Members for Change, a committee of drivers and matrons from across Local 854.
The company claimed Session was being fired for falsifying times on trip-cards for her scheduled runs. But matrons don’t even fill out trip cards.
Owner Charlie Curcio revealed the real reason for the firing when he pulled out group grievances signed by more than a hundred members and complained that Session’s name was on the top of each one.
TDU and 854 Members for Change hit back from every angle.
Within days, the employer had been contacted by the Department of Labor, a City Council member, the New York Daily News, and the National Labor Relations Board.
Teamsters from multiple companies distributed bulletins calling for solidarity and union action.
The company backed down and returned Session to work with full back pay.
“854 Members for Change and TDU really stood behind me. I’ve never seen support like that before,” Session said.
“This fight is about everybody,” said Vincent Lattimore, a TDU member from Local 237 who helped leaflet the company to protest Kim’s unjust firing.
“Teamsters have to stick together. That’s what TDU is all about.”
“Members are used to the companies pushing Local 854 around,” said driver Pierre Jerome.
“Winning Kim’s job back, we showed that members can stand up for ourselves.”