Vermont Bus Drivers to Strike over Dangerous Schedules
Bus drivers in northern Vermont have voted 53-4 to strike against unsafe conditions, surveillance and discipline, and part-time status. The walkout is set for March 10.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
Teamster Bus Drivers Rally in Vermont
February 20, 2014: Teamster bus drivers held a contract speakout yesterday and press conference in Burlington, Vt. They have voted 53-4 to reject a contract offer from the Chittenden County Transportation Authority.
“We will not let the public down by driving under unsafe conditions,” said driver Rob Slingerland, speaking at the news conference. “Driver fatigue is a leading factor in accidents in the transit industry.”
Management wants to be able to force drivers to work split shifts of up to 15 hours.
“Long workdays, split shifts and forced overtime are dangerous,” Slingerland said. “We demand that CCTA management respect our and the public’s lives by accepting our proposals for better working conditions. These include maximum workday hours, real breaks and better scheduling.”
The contract speak-out was organized with the Vermont Workers Center and featured Teamster drivers and leaders of AFL-CIO unions in the state.
Click here to read media coverage of this important Teamster struggle.
Teamsters, supporters take CCTA to task
Chittenden County’s public bus drivers are complaining about difficult working conditions and a contract proposal that they say would require them to work lengthy split shifts, endangering both drivers and riders.
“We will not let the public down by driving under unsafe conditions,” said Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) driver Rob Slingerland, speaking at a Wednesday news conference next to the Cherry Street bus station in Burlington. “Driver fatigue is a leading factor in accidents in the transit industry.”
Click here to read more at the Burlington Free Press.
NYC Mayor Lied About School Bus Strike
April 12, 2013: The press is reporting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg lied about the key issue behind the recent school bus strike in New York City.
The strike was provoked when the Department of Education eliminated key job security protections from school bus transportation contracts.
The "Employee Protection Provisions" protect the wages, benefits and job security of more than 10,000 union school bus drivers in the City including over a thousand Teamsters.
The Mayor repeatedly claimed the provisions had been illegal by the State Supreme Court.
Now, in a separate court case, attorneys for the City are arguing the opposite. They say the Employee Protection Provisions are not illegal.
"The mayor and chancellor lied to the City Council and the public about the issues here," said City Councilwoman Letitia James. "This was simply an attempt to break a union and drive it to its knees."
New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez broke this exclusive story. Click here to read his full article.
NYC Bus Strike Continues, Mayor Digs In
January 29, 2013, UPDATE: New York school bus drivers remain on strike in a fight to protect child safety and living wages. A meeting between Amalgamated Transit Union 1181 and bus company owners on Monday resulted in little progress toward ending the strike of 8,000 bus drivers and matrons that began on Jan. 16.
The meeting at the Mayor’s mansion was brokered by New York Mayor Bloomberg, although he did not attend or send a representative.
The Mayor and City Department of Education maintain that their hands are tied by a 2011 State Court of Appeals decision ruling that said provisions in bus contracts that protect bus workers pay, benefits and seniority in the case of their company losing routes are “anti-competitive”.
Bus workers say you can’t put a price on child safety and that the Employee Protection Provisions ensure that experienced drivers don’t get kicked to the curb by nonunion companies looking to cut costs at the expense of child safety.
Close to 1,000 NYC school bus drivers and matrons are members of Teamsters Local 854. They are prevented from striking because of no-strike clauses in their own contracts. But Local 854 Teamsters, including a committee of TDU members, support the strike, visit picket lines and are fighting alongside ATU members to defend the employment protections.
Some ATU 1181-represented companies are already hiring scabs.
Click here to read a New York Times article on the background of the strike, the NYC school bus workers, and the work drivers and matrons do.
Call Mayor Bloomberg at 1-888-833-7428 and tell him you support the strike and the Employee Protection Provisions.
School bus companies meeting with union Monday
School bus companies will meet with the union Monday to discuss the crippling strike that has left thousands of students without rides to class - but the city won’t come to the talks.
Workers for Amalgamated Transit Union 1181 walked off the job last Wednesday because the city cut job protections for senior workers from new contracts.
Mayor Bloomberg called for the bus companies to meet with the union at Gracie Mansion Monday but the city will not participate - and bus company officials are crying foul.
“This meeting is farce to shift the focus away from the real issue - the city’s new contracts,” said a company official, who asked to remain anonymous.
Local 1181 president Michael Cordiello applauded the mayor for arranging the sit-down, but said that unless the city comes to the talks as well, a deal isn’t happening.
“The best way for this strike to end is with Local 1181, Mayor Bloomberg and the City’s bus companies in one room, talking candidly and in good faith,” said Cordiello. “We urge Mayor Bloomberg to join us at the table to work towards ending this strike. Until that happens, the strike goes on.”
NYC School Bus Drivers and Matrons on Strike
January 16, 2013: Nearly 10,000 union school bus drivers and matrons are on strike across New York City to fight for critical safeguards that ensure children's safety and the rights of union workers.
Mayor Bloomberg forced the strike by putting out bids that do not include safeguards, called the Employer Protection Provisions, that guarantee that school bus drivers and matrons are hired based on their seniority in the industry. The provisions ensure that the most experienced drivers and matrons transport the city's children to school.
Bloomberg claims he wants to cut costs to put the savings back into schools—this from the same billionaire mayor who has closed 140 schools and slashed public education.
The Employer Protection Provisions protect living wages for workers and child safety for every New York City student. You can't put a price on that.
TDU stands behind ATU and Teamster members in this important fight against corporate politicians who put austerity ahead of living wages and children's safety.
Call Mayor Bloomberg at 1-888-833-7428 and tell him you support the strike and the Employee Protection Provisions.
Click here to sign a petition to Mayor Bloomberg.
Gatto says 854 will not cross picket lines
A strike by New York City school bus drivers that had been threatened for weeks will start Wednesday morning, affecting 152,000 students, the president of the union representing the drivers announced Monday.
Michael Cordiello of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union said more than 8,000 bus drivers and matrons will participate in the strike, brought about by a dispute over job protections in any new bus company contracts for the bus routes. Matrons accompany the children on the bus and make sure they get on and off the bus safely.
"With its regrettable decision to strike, the union is abandoning 152,000 students and their families who rely on school bus service each day," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "As Chancellor (Dennis) Walcott and I have said, the City will take all steps available to ensure that those who are impacted have the support they need, and we are now activating the protocols we put in place in the event of a strike."
Under the city's strike contingency plans, students would receive free MetroCards for mass transit. Parents or guardians of younger children also would get the cards.
Families of special needs students would be reimbursed for private transportation. Of the 152,000 students who use the buses, 54,000 are disabled and would face extra hardships in trying to find alternative transportation.
There are 1.1 million students in the New York City schools. While the majority don't use school buses, those that do are among the youngest ones.
The city wants to cut transportation costs and has put bus contracts with private bus companies up for bid. The union is decrying the lack of employee protections, saying current drivers could suddenly lose their jobs once their contracts are up in June if the companies they work for aren't the ones getting the new contracts and the new contract holders don't hire them.
The mayor said the privately-contracted drivers were demanding job security, or Employee Protection Provisions.
However, such a guarantee is not allowed in contracts between drivers and companies chosen by the city to provide bus services, the city says. The state Court of Appeals in 2011 barred the city from including EPP because of competitive bidding laws. Hence, the mayor said, the city cannot accept the union demand for an EPP clause.
"Let me be clear: the union's decision to strike has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with job protections that the City legally cannot include in its bus contracts," Bloomberg's statement said. "We hope that the union will reconsider its irresponsible and misguided decision to jeopardize our students' education."
The drivers' contracts expire on June 30, and Bloomberg said the city must "go ahead" in seeking competitive bids that would save money.
Cordiello refuted the idea that the EPP was not allowed. He said the 2011 Court of Appeals ruling was based on the fact that the city at the time did not offer the judges enough evidence to support its contention that the EPP job-security clause does not push up costs.
The union president also challenged the mayor's assertion that both sides in the labor dispute had been talking "all along."
Not true, Cordiello said. He said he'd met the chancellor for only 20 minutes last week, and the deputy mayor for an hour.
The head of another union, Teamsters Local 854, said its members would not go on strike with the bus drivers because their contracts don't allow it, but they would not cross any picket lines. Local 854 represents drivers, matrons and mechanics, some of whom work alongside members of ATU.
Dan Gatto, president of the local, put the blame on Bloomberg. "For weeks now, City Hall has refused to discuss the job-killing provisions they are insisting on as part of new contracts with bus contractors," he said.
"We urge Mayor Bloomberg and his administration to work with the ATU to resolve this dispute before a job action is required," Gatto said.
In 2011, the city said the union was threatening to strike over bus route contract bids, but the union said the warning was a false alarm. No strike took place.
Bus Drivers and Parents Rally to Protect Union Jobs
January 7, 2013: New York City is the latest battleground in corporate politicians’ war against workers.
This latest assault is led by Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of NYC who got rich providing media services to Wall Street. NYC has faced budget problems ever since Bloomberg’s Wall Street buddies drove the economy over the cliff in 2008. Now Bloomberg, who has long resisted higher taxes on Wall Street, wants to balance the budget shortfall on the backs of workers.
His target: public school bus drivers and aides, including more than 1,000 Teamsters.
Bloomberg wants to slash the cost of transporting 152,000 NYC students by eliminating decades-old rules (called Employee Protection Provisions) that stop bus companies that win bids with the Department of Education from cutting the wages and benefits of bus drivers and aides.
The Employee Protection Provisions were won as a result of a 13 week strike in 1979 and requires companies to hire laid off union drivers and bus aides from a Master Seniority List. Experienced bus drivers and aides can “follow their work” and maintain their wages and benefits if a new company takes over or wins new routes.
On Sunday, thousands of school bus drivers and parents rallied at New York’s City Hall to speak out for protecting their jobs and to prepare for a possible strike.
Click here to read more on the rally and possibility of a strike.
School Bus Workers Fight for Their Jobs
July 6, 2012: New York City bus drivers and escorts went on strike in 1979 and won crucial job security protections.
Now, those protections are on the line.
New York City is trying to eliminate rules that protect school bus drivers from pay and benefit cuts, or losing their jobs, when another bus company bids on their work.
School bus drivers across the city went on strike to win these critical Employee Protection Provisions in 1979.
Now, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has successfully lobbied Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto a bill that would have extended the protections. This fall, the Mayor and Department of Education plan to bid contracts covering more than 138,000 students without the provisions.
We'll Fight to Protect Our Jobs
"The Mayor and Department of Education are trying to destroy good union jobs," said Pierre Jerome, a Local 854 bus driver in Brooklyn. "Bus drivers and escorts went on strike to win these job protections and we'll fight to keep them."
Strike votes are being held in Amalgated Transport Union 1181, which represents the majority of school bus drivers, escorts and mechanics.
ATU issued notices to its members about preparing for a possible strike and is circulating a survey to members. A bus company sent out their own leaflet threatening ATU 1181 employees with a 20 percent cut in pay and benefits!
The Employee Protection Provisions were won as a result of the 1979 citywide school bus strike by thousands of members of ATU 1181. During that strike, police drove kids to school in buses used to take inmates to and from Rikers Island jail.
The provisions require the Department of Education to maintain a Master Seniority List of all drivers, mechanics and escorts. School bus companies that win new routes or hire more drivers are required to hire from the List, in order of seniority, and maintain the workers' wages and pensions.
Defending Children's Safety
"Without the protections, our work would go to the lowest bidder," said Teamster bus driver and TDU member Juan Carlos Rodriguez. "This doesn't just affect us. This is about the safety of New York City children and our streets. Union drivers and escorts are well-trained and know how to do our job safely."
Teamsters Local 854 issued a notice to drivers and escorts about the threat to the protections, stating the union is "prepared to do whatever is necessary to benefit our members."
But members question whether the union is really prepared. There have been no membership meetings or action plans.
TDU members from different bus companies are distributing informational bulletins and collecting petition signatures to defend the Employee Protection Provisions.
Union Needs a Plan
"We need more than talk," said Pierre Jerome. "Our union needs a plan to organize members, build public support, and protect good jobs and safe transportation for the students. This isn't about what's good for this or that bus company, or the Teamsters and ATU—it's about what's right for New York City."
Threat to Union Jobs
"Without the protections, our work would go to the lowest bidder.
"This is about the safety of New York City children and our streets. Union drivers and escorts are well-trained and know how to do our job safely."
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Consolidated Bus Transit
Local 854, New York
Union Needs a Plan
"We need more than talk.
"Our union needs a plan to organize members, build public support, and protect good jobs and safe transportation for the students."
Pierre Jerome, Empire Bus Corp.
Local 854, New York