School bus drivers authorize strike after their Employer refuses to provide healthcare or retirement security
September 27, 2017
School bus drivers at First Student gathered in the Local 174 Union Hall auditorium this past weekend to discuss and vote on the next step in their battle for healthcare and retirement security. After a nearly two-hour informational meeting, the workers voted by a resounding 96% margin in favor of authorizing a strike action against their Employer.
First Student driver and Bargaining Committee member Renita Wright casts her ballot
Negotiations over healthcare and pension have been going on for several months between First Student and the bus drivers, who have been members of Teamsters Local 174 since 2013. The group of approximately 450 school bus drivers ratified a contract last year that guaranteed their wages and language to protect their rights on the job; however, retirement and healthcare issues were not settled at that time. Instead, both sides agreed to reopen these issues in 2017.
Now that the time has come to reach agreements on healthcare and pension, however, it has become clear that First Student never intended to take these issues seriously. “They came to the table, ostensibly ready to bargain healthcare, but then they couldn’t tell us what those costs would be, nor could they tell us what kind of budget the School Board had given them,” said Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren. “How are we supposed to bargain over numbers when we don’t even know what those numbers are? It just demonstrates that this company never really intended to reach an agreement with us. We are filing Unfair Labor Practice charges for Bad Faith Bargaining and Surface Bargaining as they never intended to reach an Agreement on these very important issues.”