A new generation of strikers
‘This is the movement of the people’
‘Every step you take on your picket line is our step’
A growing movement for work with dignity
A nearly three-week-long bus drivers' strike in the state's largest county has ended with the approval of a new contract — and a promise of free rides on Friday.
The Chittenden County Transportation Authority board ratified the contract Thursday evening. The bus drivers had overwhelmingly approved the deal earlier in the day.
Read more here from the Associate Press.
Click here to read TDU's story on the strike in the current issue of Teamster Voice.
April 2, 2014: Bus service is at a standstill but solidarity is on the rise in Vermont where a Teamster strike has shut down the state’s largest public transit system continues.
As Teamster Voice goes to press, the strike at the Chittenden County Transportation Authority is entering its third week.
Community groups, unions, and the public are uniting in support of the drivers who have made driver fatigue and public safety a key issue in the contract dispute.
“We will not let the public down by driving under unsafe conditions,” said driver Rob Slingerland, one of the lead organizers of the drivers rank-and-file contract campaign. “Driver fatigue is a leading factor in accidents in the transit industry.”
A typical work day for drivers already begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m., a 12½ hour spread for which workers get paid only seven hours. Management wants to increase the spread of hours even more to 13½ hours a day.
Local 597 members are also demanding an end to unfair discipline, including management’s abuse of anonymous tips to write up drivers.
CCTA refused to budge on these issues, provoking the strike. Management’s plan was to to pit “greedy union workers” against the public.
This strategy has been used by employers and corporate politicians across the country to attack public employee unions and force concessions. But Local 597 members were
Long before the strike, shop stewards and other rank-and-file leaders began meeting with members from other unions, students and concerned bus riders at the Vermont Workers Center.
They organized Town Hall meetings and press conferences to make their case to the
public and build community support.
On the first day of the strike, drivers and supporters knocked on doors and passed out handbills across Burlington. They posted “I Love My Bus Driver” lawn signs across the city.
Throughout the strike, public supporters and other unions have been a fixture on the picket lines, in marches and rallies, and in an emergency meeting of the City Council.
Management thought that drivers would be isolated and cave in after a few days on the picket lines.
But a driver-community alliance continues to power the fight for a fair contract at the CCTA.
April 18, 2014: Contract enforcement action by a TDU member has paid off—winning a $100,000 grievance victory for new York City school bus drivers.
Consolidated Bus Transit (CBT) tried to pull a fast one and cheat more than 160 drivers and bus aides out of their vacation pay for President’s Day week.
New York City schools are closed for President’s Day week but Teamsters at CBT have always been paid for that week for 20 years as part of a contractual guarantee.
TDU member Juan Carlos Rodriguez circulated a group grievance that members signed, they pushed the union to fight for their pay—and they won! The company is paying members about $100,000 in lost wages.
“This is a big victory for us."
“It shows everyone that we can organize to hold the company to the contract and push the union to do the right thing.”
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, CBT Local 553, New York City
After another marathon negotiation session, no deal was reached between Chittenden County Transportation Authority management and the Teamsters Local 597 bus drivers’ union, the two sides said Saturday.
Teamsters business agent Tony St. Hilaire said the negotiation using a federal mediator lasted 17 hours, and at the end, there was still no contract agreement. No further negotiations are scheduled at this time, St. Hilaire said.
Click here to read more at the Burlington Free Press.
March 28, 2014: Bus service is at a standstill, but solidarity is on the rise as a Teamster strike shutting down Vermont’s largest public transit system continues.
More than 50 people spoke out at an Emergency Meeting of the City Council in Burlington, Vt. to discuss the strike at the Chittenden County Transit Authority which began on March 17.
The Council passed a resolution calling for a settlement that gets “drivers back to work with a fair and equitable contract” and restores “needed transportation services.”
The resolution also calls on management to report back to the City Council every two months about “labor management relations” even after the strike is over.
Unfair discipline, including management’s abuse of anonymous tips, and the Chittenenden County Transit Authority’s (CCTA) predatory management style have been a hot button issue in the strike.
Driver fatigue, scheduling, and public safety are also key concerns. A typical work day for drivers already begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m., a 12½ hour spread for which workers get paid only seven hours. Management wants to increase the spread of hours even more to 13½ hours a day.
Community groups, unions, and the public are uniting in support of the drivers. Labor and community supporters have been a fixture on the picket lines, at press conferences, and before the City Council.
Teamsters Local 251 in Providence joined the action this week, sending up the Local’s tractor trailer to support strikers at the main picket line in downtown Burlington.
Bus service is at a standstill but solidarity is on the rise.
Click here to see a video report on this story.
Bundled against the cold and clutching signs, placards and coffee about 70 Burlington High School students this morning joined striking Chittenden County Transportation Authority drivers and other community members on a downtown picket line.
The drivers’ union called for the strike last week in response to stalled contract negotiations over shift lengths and what they say is an over-reliance on part-time drivers.
Click here to read more at the Burlington Free Press.
March 17, 2014: Teamster bus drivers were joined by 150 community supporters on the picket lines in Burlington, Vt. this morning.
The Teamster Local 597 members work for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority. Riders include many public school students, and they stand with the drivers.
Students gathered in below-zero temperatures this morning to rally and picket with drivers. Then they marched together to school.
CCTA drivers are united for a contract that provides good full-time jobs to bus drivers and safety for drivers and the public. They voted 54-0 to reject the “last, best and final” offer from their employer and to strike the CCTA.
Community groups, unions, and the public are uniting in support of the drivers. “I Love My Bus Driver / CCTA Fair Contract Now” lawn signs are going up across Burlington.
Burlington High School students collected signatures from more than 500 students—half their school—in support of the drivers and workplace dignity and delivered them at a City Council hearing jammed with community supporters.
School teachers are sending support petitions too. There have been community speak-outs, press conferences, and practice picketing outside of contract negotiations.
CCTA’s efforts to pit riders against the public have hit a dead end thanks to these savvy organizing efforts.
The public stands behind Teamster bus drivers and Local 597 members and so do we.
What’s at Stake?
- SAFE & REASONABLE WORKING CONDITIONS: Management wants to extend the length of split-shifts. This extension of already long hours raises obvious issues for everyone on the road.
- FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT: Management wants to bring in more part-time workers. Drivers do not want to see full-time jobs being turned into part-time work. We want our drivers to have livable jobs.
- PREDATORY MANAGEMENT: CCTA drivers are constantly spied on, followed, and threatened with suspension for small issues. They want a contract that will protect them from disciplinary abuse.