Passenger Transportation

Passenger Transportation Division

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Want to see your Passenger Transportation Division picture here? Just send it to

Local 174 represents Passenger Transportation workers at:

First Student (drivers and mechanics)
  • IBT Passenger Transportation Division:
    The Teamsters Passenger Transportation Division represents more than 50,000 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants, mechanics, and dispatchers all across North America.

    Here at Local 174, we represent over 300 school bus drivers and mechanics at First Student. These workers are responsible for the safe transportation of our children to and from school, and we are grateful to them for the work they do every day!

    IBT Division Director: Rick Middleton

  • Business Agent:

    Abe TaylorAbe Taylor
    Business Agent
    Contact Phone: 206-441-6060 ext. 1325
    First Student

  • Useful Links:

    Grievance form link

    **Please note that Grievances MUST be submitted in person or by fax. They will not be accepted via email.**



Passenger Transportation Teamsters in the News:

Teamsters Local 174 One-Day Strike at First Student: Recap and Update

December 13, 2017

Two weeks ago, over 400 school bus drivers at First Student in Seattle walked off the job in a one-day Unfair Labor Practice strike. The strike, which halted all yellow bus service for the Seattle School District on November 29, was in protest of First Student’s unilateral implementation of an inferior health care plan without bargaining said plan with the Union.

First Student school bus drivers on strike at First Student’s South Park bus lot

Picket lines in the South Park and Lake City neighborhoods went up before 5:00AM. The overwhelming majority of drivers held firm on the picket line to show their Employer they were serious and they would not allow First Student to bully them into accepting healthcare plans that are unaffordable and do not provide the coverage they need. As of now, fewer than 7% of First Student drivers in Seattle are covered under the Company’s healthcare plan – a plan with such poor coverage that at least one driver had to declare bankruptcy after facing medical expenses, even though he was insured under the plan. The rest of the drivers go without healthcare.

Both picket lines received an outpouring of support from parents and teachers within the Seattle School District. The South Park picket line also received support from Seattle City Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda and King County Councilman Joe McDermott.

Seattle City Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda (left) and King County Councilman Joe McDermott (right) support the First Student picket lines

After nearly 12 hours standing in the cold, the picket lines were eventually taken down and the drivers returned home to prepare for a regular work day the next day. Meanwhile, First Student management reached out to Teamsters Local 174 through the Federal Mediator, finally ready to return to the bargaining table to have a frank conversation about healthcare and retirement for the school bus drivers. A meeting was set up for the next day.

First Student school bus drivers on strike at First Student’s Lake City bus lot

Unfortunately, that meeting did not produce a deal. “First Student continued to put forth the same lousy proposals as before, with only the tiniest bit of extra money added in,” said Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren. “They are still trying to put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. They brought a slightly larger Band-Aid, but it was nowhere close to being enough cover our members. We are still very far apart.”

This means that the probability of a longer strike remains imminent. “At this point, we are busy lining up coalitions, building community support, and setting up meetings as we prepare for a long-term labor dispute,” Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks said. “First Student and the Seattle community saw what a school bus strike looks like, but apparently First Student still feels that saving money is more important than the health and welfare of its employees and the education of Seattle children. We are disappointed with their behavior at the bargaining table, and we hope that they come to their senses before another strike has to be called that will last for the duration.”

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at

More photos from the First Student strike:


Teamsters Local 174 to Call One-Day Unfair Labor Practice Strike Tomorrow at First Student

November 29, 2017 Strike Will Protest First Student’s Illegal Actions

November 28, 2017

In an effort to mitigate any hardship faced by Seattle parents, Teamsters Local 174 has decided to announce in advance there will be a one-day strike held tomorrow, November 29, 2017. The strike by the group of more than 400 First Student school bus drivers will impact all yellow bus service to the Seattle School District. The Unfair Labor Practice strike will protest First Student’s unilateral change and implementation of an inferior medical plan for its employees – an illegal action under the National Labor Relations Act, as healthcare is the subject of negotiations and cannot be changed without bargaining with the employees’ Union.

Teamsters Local 174 does not typically announce strikes in advance; however, in this case, the Union and its members wished to give Seattle parents adequate notice to make arrangements for their children. Bus service should resume on Thursday, November 30; however, a longer strike can be called at any time if a deal is not reached. (more…)

FMCSA Adds New Opioids to Drug Testing Panel Effective January 1, 2018

New Regulations will Test for Vicodin, OxyContin, Lorta, Norco, Dilaudid, etc.

November 21, 2017

Beginning January 1, 2018, the US Department of Transportations’ Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will expand its drug testing panel to include four synthetic opioid drugs: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. These substances are more commonly known as Vicodin, OxyContin, Lorta, Norco, and Dilaudid, among others.

These drugs are being added in order to harmonize DOT regulations with the recently revised Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. The HHS Guidelines were updated after studies of drug abuse trends made it clear that opioid abuse needed to be addressed.

The inclusion of these drugs is intended to combat illegal opioid abuse. There should not be a problem with these drugs if they are being taken responsibly via a legally valid prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act.

All FMCSA-regulated employers have until January 1, 2018 to revise their drug and alcohol testing policies to conform to the new regulations. Any Teamsters Local 174 member with a Commercial Drivers’ License and who is subject to FMCSA drug and alcohol testing at work should be aware of these changes. If you have any questions, please contact your Teamster Business Agent.

To learn more about this, read the full Department of Transportation rule published in the Federal Register on November 13, 2017.

After Mediation Breaks Down, Pressure Mounts on First Student as Strike Could be Called at Any Moment

Letters from School Board and Seattle Mayor Make Clear that Labor Dispute with Teamsters Local 174 is First Student’s Responsibility to Solve

November 15, 2017

After a complete breakdown in mediated negotiations between Teamsters Local 174 and First Student, avoiding a strike by over 400 Seattle school bus drivers seems all but impossible. First Student presented a Last, Best, and Final offer that was not even close to being acceptable for Teamster members at First Student. At this point, the school bus drivers are not on strike, and they have been instructed to continue to work until they hear otherwise from Teamsters Local 174 leadership. That call could come at any moment.

In the face of this negotiations breakdown, First Student is facing increasingly heavy pressure to do the right thing and provide quality affordable healthcare and retirement benefits to its employees. Over the past week, two letters have been made public that show that First Student cannot expect any government assistance to help it escape from the problem it now finds itself in: a problem that the Company clearly knew was coming, and that they could have and should have taken steps to avoid.

In a letter dated November 7, 2017 from Seattle Public Schools (SPS) General Counsel Noel Treat, which Teamsters Local 174 obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, SPS places blame for the current labor dispute directly onto First Student. “The District rejects any attempt to shift the risk of a labor action from First Student onto the District,” the letter states. “The present situation was readily foreseeable and is a problem caused solely by First Student’s own decisions and actions.”

The letter goes on to make clear that SPS will not be providing First Student with additional funding to put towards paying for healthcare for its employees, as the District “has no legal obligation” to do so. “First Student has the duty to provide sufficient pay and benefits to retain a workforce. First Student has the duty to maintain labor peace and resolve the risk of any labor dispute. Finally, and most important to our present situation, First Student has the duty to provide uninterrupted bus service and to pay liquidated damages if it fails to do so,” Treat writes in the letter.

The harshly-worded letter from SPS was not the only letter sent to First Student on November 7. On that same date, First Student President Dennis Maple received a letter from City of Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess also urging the company to reach an agreement with the Teamsters and “prevent a strike that would disrupt the lives of thousands of Seattle students and parents.”

In this letter, Mayor Burgess points to the “real, dire impact” that the lack of affordable health insurance is having on First Student’s workforce. He says that he felt “compelled” to draft a letter after hearing about First Student employees’ plights – specifically, the story of a young woman with cancer who cannot afford treatment for her disease. The letter makes it clear that Mayor Burgess feels the right solution to this labor dispute would be for First Student to agree to provide healthcare, rather than for the Teamster bus drivers to continue to go without.

As the pressure on First Student continues to mount, the Company is finding itself woefully short on allies.

“At this point, no one is on First Student’s side, and the reason for that is quite simply that First Student is in the wrong here,” said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “This company has demonstrated across the United States that their business strategy is to increase their profits by underpaying their workforce and denying them basic healthcare and retirement benefits. They are truly the Walmart of student transportation, and the Teamsters will not stand idly by and allow this business strategy to remain the norm.

“First Student’s parent company FirstGroup is a wealthy multinational with teams of lawyers negotiating their contracts with cities, school districts, and municipalities all over the world. These contracts should be based around a cost structure that includes proper compensation for their employees. That is what they do in the UK and in Europe – so why are they not doing it here in the United States?

“This business strategy of denying their US-based employees healthcare ends here. Our members are not going to die of treatable illnesses and bankrupt themselves for medical procedures in order to protect First Student’s profit margin. It is time for this company to put their pride aside and do the right thing for their employees,” Hicks concluded.

After yesterday’s breakdown in negotiations, a strike is likely to be called at any moment. For further updates, follow Teamsters Local 174 online at or on Facebook at

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area.

Meeting Between First Student and Teamsters Local 174 Produces Next Steps; Strike Threat Still Looms

November 3, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, there was a meeting at the Teamsters Local 174 Union Hall between representatives from the Teamsters and First Student. The meeting, which included decision-makers from both sides, was not a bargaining session; instead, it was an attempt to assess the lay of the land and discuss next steps as First Student strives to avoid a strike by over 400 school bus drivers in Seattle.

The meeting led to two important outcomes: first, there will be another bargaining session on November 9 – a session at which a federal mediator may be present. And second, a meeting is being scheduled for next week involving representatives from the Teamsters, First Student, and the Seattle School District. The discussion will center on the serious funding concerns around transportation, and a pathway forward that will lead to a positive outcome for the school bus drivers and their families.

“While yesterday’s meeting was a step in the right direction, make no mistake – it was only a small step,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “We still have a great deal of ground to cover, and First Student needs to continue to demonstrate that they are taking our members’ needs seriously. Our message to First Student is very clear: the Teamsters will continue to push for quality affordable healthcare and retirement security for our members. We have no intention of backing down from those issues.”

In the meantime, a strike by the school bus drivers, who are responsible for all yellow bus service for the Seattle School District, is still a very real possibility given the lack of measurable progress in the negotiations.

“We are open to any proposals that First Student brings to the table next week,” Hicks said. “But if they do not include a serious attempt to address our members’ needs for healthcare and retirement security, then a strike will be almost inevitable.”

Meanwhile, Teamsters Local 174 continues to question the Seattle School District’s decision to press First Student for a secondary Request for Proposal that removed healthcare and retirement security from its employees’ compensation.

“The School District’s irresponsible decision to cut funding for bus drivers’ healthcare and retirement is the main reason we are in this situation right now,” Hicks said. “The School District needs to step up to the plate for these school bus drivers just as much as First Student does.”

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at

Seattle Public Schools Responds to Teamsters Local 174 Letter

October 31, 2017

In a direct response to Local 174 Secretary Treasurer Rick Hicks’s letter dated October 30, 2017, Seattle Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Operations Pegi McEvoy has sent a letter to First Student. A PDF of the letter is available here, and the full text of the letter is below. The letter states that if First Student does not reach a resolution with the Teamsters to avoid a strike, the District will be seeking damages from First Student to the maximum extent allowed by law — potentially at a cost of $1.2 million per day.

October 31, 2017

To: Kim Worster
Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Ms. Worster:

It is my understanding that you have not resolved the outstanding issues with your bus drivers and that your drivers may go on strike as early as this week. It is paramount to Seattle Public Schools and the many students who depend on daily bus service that a strike is averted. Please
understand that in the event a strike does occur and bus service disrupted, Seattle Public Schools intends to seek damages from First Student to the maximum extent allowed by law.

As you know, thousands of our students and their families depend on bus service each day to travel to and from school. Should daily bus service be disrupted, the lives and education of many students will be significantly and adversely impacted. In addition to this disruption, Seattle Public Schools could also face substantial costs to address your failure to provide the contractually obligated service.

Your contract with Seattle Public Schools mandates that you provide continuous and uninterrupted bus service. The contract provides for significant liquidated damages for every missed route. Our preliminary calculations indicate that liquidated damages for missing all routes due to strike would result in damages of approximately $1.2 Million per day. We will vigorously seek such damages, along with any others allowed, in the event service is interrupted due to a strike.

We appreciate the efforts you have taken to date to resolve the issues with your drivers. We encourage you to promptly resolve remaining issues and avoid a very costly and disruptive interruption to bus service.


Pegi McEvoy
Assistant Superintendent for Operations
Seattle Public Schools

“Sorry You Have Cancer”: This 26-year old First Student Driver’s Battle for Healthcare is a Battle for her Life

October 31, 2017

Olivia Moore stands with her bus on the First Student lot

At just 26 years old, school bus driver Olivia Moore has fought more hard battles than most of us will in a lifetime. She lost her mother during childhood, battled homelessness, depression, and anxiety, and is now standing shoulder to shoulder with her coworkers in the most important battle of all: a battle for healthcare that she needs to save her life.

“It started when I noticed a mole looked weird, and was getting bigger,” she says. “This was after I had already turned 26 so I wasn’t on my dad’s health insurance anymore.”

As an employee at First Student, Olivia does not receive health insurance through her job – a fact that she and her coworkers, who are proud members of Teamsters Local 174, have been fighting hard to rectify.

Once she noticed her moles starting to change, she got an appointment at Sea Mar, a community-based organization that provides medical services on a sliding scale accessible to people like Olivia who do not have insurance. After a visit with a dermatologist and then a cancer specialist, she received the news:

“They told me I have basal cell carcinoma,” she says.

Olivia Moore holds a sign at the Seattle School Board meeting on October 18, 2017

Being diagnosed with cancer would be devastating for any one of us, but it is even more devastating for Olivia, because without medical insurance, she cannot afford proper medical care. Instead, the only medical care she receives is through Sea Mar, and even that is barely affordable for her, though the services are deeply discounted.

“If I had health insurance, I’d be making appointments right now with specialists to look at all of my moles, to get all the bad ones removed. I might be doing overall body chemotherapy. Any kind of treatment that they would want to do, I’d be doing it,” she says. “I’d like to see a nutritionist to find out if there’s anything I shouldn’t be eating. I’d like to know the underlying causes of this. I’d like to have preventative care.”

Instead, she is stuck watching helplessly as mole after mole appears and begins to grow. “We should be doing something much more aggressive to treat this. But I can’t afford it.”

Olivia’s tragic story is one that is all too common in the USA’s splintered healthcare system. The timing is especially poignant right now because Olivia’s Union, Teamsters Local 174, is currently locked in battle with employer First Student over this very issue: providing health insurance to the company’s unionized workforce. Olivia’s coworkers, a group of over 400 school bus drivers working in the Seattle School District, are currently on the brink of a strike over their employer’s refusal to bargain fairly over health insurance.

Olivia Moore and her coworkers at First Student put together picket signs for an impending strike against their employer

“It is a disgrace that these hardworking individuals do not have healthcare,” says Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “How can First Student stand by and watch while one of their employees may actually die because they want to pad their bottom line?”

“We are not going to let that happen to Olivia,” he continues. “She is one of us, and we will do everything in our power to support her. If that means going on strike to get the healthcare that First Student promised these bus drivers, then that is what we will do.”

Meanwhile, Olivia strives to stay positive. “I love the kids that ride my bus. I know all my kids’ names. I just enjoy them. They tell me about their day. There’s one little girl who’s being bullied right now at school, and so I always talk to her, and I make sure to keep up on telling the teachers. I try to create a safe space on my bus where they can tell me anything.”

Of course, that safe space goes both ways, as Olivia speaks candidly with the kids on her bus as well. “The kids are aware of what’s going on,” she says, referring to her battle with cancer. “They are 100% on my side and they ask me how are you doing? How are you feeling today? I had a little girl make me a card that said ‘I’m sorry you have cancer.’ I’m glad that she feels comfortable enough to do that.”

Even with the kids, their parents, and her Union standing behind her, Olivia still faces intense anxiety about the future. “My migraines are back from the stress. I’m losing hair. Constant tension. My appetite is gone. I’m stressed to the point where I’m just calm, like I’ve reached beyond hysterics into pure calm. Any other bad news I get, I just accept it at this point.”

“I’ve got no resources to fix what is wrong,” she says sadly.

And of course, without health insurance, she also cannot seek mental health treatment for the incredible anxiety and depression that come with watching a serious and potentially terminal illness creep through her body with little recourse to stop it.

“People like Olivia are the reason why we fight,” says Rick Hicks. “The Teamsters believe that health insurance is not a luxury – it is a necessity. Because without it, what are people like Olivia supposed to do? If people cannot get health insurance through their jobs, then where can they get it?”

“This fight is not just about Olivia, and it is not just about 400 bus drivers in Seattle. It is about an entire industry that has been overlooked and underpaid for too long,” Hicks continues. “School bus drivers work hard doing a job that most of us would not want to do. They deserve to be treated like human beings with dignity and respect. At a minimum, they deserve to be able to get treatment for cancer. It is ridiculous that we even need to say that out loud.”

As for Olivia, she longs for the day when her Union wins this fight, and she can get the healthcare she needs. “It will just feel like there’s a weight off my shoulders,” she says. “I’ll just collapse in relief that I don’t have to worry about dying young like my mom did at 32.”

“With the Teamsters at her back, we know we will get there,” Hicks says.

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at

A Letter from Teamsters Local 174 to the Seattle School Board

October 30, 2017

A letter was sent today from Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks to the Seattle School Board. The Board has continued to do nothing about the labor dispute between their transportation contractor First Student and its unionized workforce, who are proud members of Teamsters Local 174. A PDF copy of the letter is available here, and the full text of the letter is below:

October 30, 2017

Seattle School Board Members,

At this point, you are well aware of the current ongoing labor dispute between Seattle school bus drivers, who are members of Teamsters Local 174, and First Student. This labor dispute remains at a boiling point, with no progress whatsoever made over the past several weeks.

As you know, First Student is the Seattle School District’s subcontractor for student transportation. You hired this company, and you negotiated and then signed a contract with them to provide yellow bus service for students in the City of Seattle. At the time that this contract was signed, the Seattle School Board was well aware that healthcare and pension issues had not been addressed in the labor agreement that was reached between the Teamsters and First Student in 2016. You knew this because we, Teamsters Local 174, told you.

And yet, despite your knowledge that this issue would surface again in the summer of 2017, you did not negotiate anything into your contract with First Student that required them to provide healthcare to the school bus drivers, nor did you provide them with additional funding for that purpose.

First Student had and continues to have a vested interest in maintaining the Seattle School District’s business. They own bus lots within the city limits, and they have a fleet of school buses stationed here. You, the School Board, had an enormous amount of leverage to require appropriate benefits for employees as part of the contract. But you did not do this.

Now that this issue has – predictably – led to a labor dispute that threatens to erupt and cause a major headache for Seattle families, you have collectively shrugged your shoulders and claimed that you are powerless to do anything in this situation. With the notable exception of School Board Director Betty Patu, no member of the Board has even deigned to meet with the Teamsters to discuss our concerns.

First Student drivers are angry – angry enough to go on strike at a moment’s notice. This entire situation was so avoidable, and yet here we are on the brink of a strike that would be catastrophic for Seattle families who rely on First Student drivers to get their children to and from school every day.

The responsibility to fix this problem lies not just with First Student, but with the Seattle School District that pays them for their services. You and the rest of the Seattle School Board have the ability to put pressure on First Student to resolve this situation – significantly more pressure than the gently-worded “good people on both sides” letters that have been made public up to this point.

Parents of children in the Seattle area are keenly aware of your culpability in this issue. None of us will take kindly to seeing the School District throw up their hands in defeat as their transportation contractor runs riot, refusing to abide by the National Labor Relations Act by negotiating fairly with their unionized workforce.

Parents of children in the Seattle School District want the people who transport their children every day to have healthcare. They want them to have retirement benefits. They want them to be treated with dignity and respect.

It is your job to ensure that all of your outsourced vendors adhere to the requirements of the Seattle School District, rather than acting like the Walmart of public education.

We hope that you will use your position to help resolve this situation before it leads to a strike. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.



Rick Hicks


First Student Teamsters Speak Before the Seattle School Board

October 18, 2017

It was an electrifying evening at the Seattle School Board meeting, as dozens of First Student drivers attended the meeting wearing their reflective vests and carrying handmade signs. The signs, along with the energetic presence of the drivers themselves, made it clear to the Seattle School Board that this labor dispute does not stop at First Student. “The dispute has reached a boiling point, and this group is on the brink of a strike that would create havoc for Seattle families,” said Teamsters Local 174 Senior Business Agent Abraham Taylor in a speech before the Board, which he delivered while flanked on all sides by the Teamsters he represents. “None of us want that to happen, and so we are asking for your help in resolving this situation as quickly as possible.”

Taylor went on to point out that First Student has failed to negotiate in good faith with the drivers over health insurance and retirement benefits, and that new Unfair Labor Practice charges were filed with the National Labor Relations Board earlier today. “[The School Board members] can look at these drivers and say ‘I’m not your employer, I can’t do anything about this’ – but that is an abdication of responsibility that we will not accept,” he said.

The battle for health insurance is not just a matter of convenience — for some, it is a matter of life and death. One driver carried a sign alerting the School Board to a heartbreaking situation: at the age of 26, after aging out of her father’s health insurance, she has been diagnosed with cancer. Without health insurance, there is nothing she can do.

“You CAN do something about this, and you need to,” Taylor concluded in his speech to the Board.

Here is the full text of Taylor’s speech:

“I am here tonight to talk to you about the labor dispute between Teamsters Local 174 and First Student, your subcontractor for student transportation. The dispute has reached a boiling point, and this group is on the brink of a strike that would create havoc for Seattle families.

None of us want that to happen, and so we are asking for your help in resolving this situation as quickly as possible.

First Student has not bargained in good faith with these drivers. They made promises last year that once they were able to get a new contract with the Seattle School District, they would be able to address our members’ very real concerns about affordable healthcare and retirement.

Now that a year has passed and First Student was able to get contracts settled with the drivers and with the School District, they came back to the bargaining table without a single penny more than what they have been offering up until now. They had a year, and they came up with nothing.

Healthcare is not affordable for these drivers. Out of over 400 of them, only 26 signed up for the plan they were offered, and the new plans that First Student brought to the bargaining table were even worse. To be clear, the vast majority of the people that transport our most precious cargo – our children – do not have quality affordable healthcare.

 First Student has committed multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act while attempting to bargain this contract. We have filed several charges with the National Labor Relations Board, and even just today a new charge was filed because First Student has been attempting to intimidate our members – an illegal act under the law.

You, the board members, have a responsibility in this situation. This is your contractor, that you hired, that is treating its unionized workforce this way. And you can look at these drivers and say ‘I’m not your employer, I can’t do anything about this’ – but that is an abdication of responsibility that we will not accept. You CAN do something about this, and you need to. Thank you for your time.”

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at

Teamsters at First Student Put Together Picket Signs for Possible Strike

October 13, 2017

Teamsters Local 174 members at First Student came together today to work on making picket signs for a potential Unfair Labor Practice strike. All the signs were carefully waterproofed to prepare for Seattle’s inevitable autumn rain, and morale was high despite the unfortunate circumstance that First Student and the Seattle School District have put these drivers in. It was great to see everyone working together! The drivers are still not currently on strike, but a strike could be called at any time. To learn more about the situation, click here.

KIRO 7 News Coverage:

Strike Appears Imminent at First Student as Negotiations Break Down

Unfair Labor Practices at Seattle School District Bus Contractor Threaten to Send up to 400 School Bus Drivers to the Street

October 12, 2017

Negotiations between Teamsters Local 174 and Seattle School District bus contractor First Student broke down yesterday. The negotiations over healthcare and retirement – which affect over 400 school bus drivers in Seattle – began in June, but First Student has continued to refuse to bargain in good faith. First Student has refused to provide requested information, and has failed to send a representative with the authority to make decisions. These, along with the refusal to bargain in good faith, are all Unfair Labor Practices under the National Labor Relations Act.

The group of First Student drivers, who have been members of Teamsters Local 174 since 2013, 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.  A commitment to ask the Seattle School District for sufficient funding to provide medical and retirement was made, but First Student did not do their part and the Seattle School District refused to step up to the plate.

Since reopening the contract for healthcare and retirement, negotiations have gone nowhere. “The medical plan that the drivers have been offered up to this point provided decent coverage, but it was not even remotely affordable to them. Out of over 400 drivers, only 26 even signed up for the plan,” said Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren. “The plan options the Company brought to the table this time around were even worse: fixed benefit plans that would allow our members to go to the doctor and find out they were sick, but then be unable to afford to do anything about it. These plans would have left people on the hook for countless thousands of dollars in bills for even a brief hospital stay. We couldn’t possibly agree to that. Our members deserve better.”

The main obstacle preventing a contract from being reached appears to be the privatized school bus business model itself. In areas where school bus drivers are employed directly by the School District, they are compensated appropriately as public employees often are, with good healthcare and retirement security. However, the Seattle School District has outsourced its school bus services to First Student in an attempt to save money, and the impact on bus drivers has been dire: “Many of the drivers are so strapped for cash that they have to use Public Assistance to get healthcare for their families,” said Local 174 Senior Business Agent Abraham Taylor. “And they can forget about retirement – most haven’t been able to save much of anything at all.”

Drivers express regret that the negotiations have not been able to produce an agreement that will keep them at work. “We feel like we were forced into this,” said First Student employee and Bargaining Committee member Joyce Hiatt. “We don’t want to go on strike, but we are not going to stand by and be mistreated. We see all the other employees at the school getting paid fairly – the custodians, the cafeteria employees, and everyone else. We’re the only ones out here with no affordable healthcare and no pension. And that isn’t right.”

“We would like to be healthy, so that we can continue to do a good job,” said another First Student employee and Bargaining Committee member Renita Wright. “It’s a shame that First Student and the Seattle School District can’t seem to be able to make that happen for us.”

Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks echoed the bus drivers’ message: “This isn’t just a shame – it is an embarrassment. The Seattle School District and First Student need to step up and put forward a real offer that takes our members’ needs into account. It is embarrassing that there are people working in our school system who need government aid for healthcare and have no hope of retirement, especially when just about everyone else in that same work environment does.”

“Nobody wants to see a strike in this industry. But First Student, through their stall tactics and total refusal to put forward a reasonable offer at the bargaining table, are forcing our hand,” Hicks continued. “We are going to do what is right for our members and their families.”

Currently, the bus drivers are not on strike; however, a strike could be called at any time after the drivers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike action at a meeting on September 24.

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at

Local 174 Members at First Student Vote to Authorize Strike Action

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.” (more…)

Worcester School Bus Drivers and Monitors Ratify Teamsters Contract

August 31, 2017

Durham workers in Worcester, MA celebrating their new contract with the Teamsters

Intense Negotiations, Threat of Strike Lead to Strong Agreement with Durham

(WORCESTER, Mass.) — On Aug. 30, Teamsters Local 170 members that work as Special Education Drivers & Monitors at Durham School Services approved an agreement with the company after nine months of negotiations and the threat of a strike, which would have affected 12,000 students in the City of Worcester. The agreement, which covers approximately 130 workers, was ratified by more than a 90 percent margin.

“I’d like to thank Local 170 business agents Ken Bergen and Eli Gillen for all of their assistance, and give credit to the members who stood together for a fair contract and were ready and united to do whatever was necessary to win a favorable outcome,” said Secretary-Treasurer Shannon George. “When members stand united and support their local union’s officers and agents, they can achieve the contracts that they deserve.” (more…)

Middleborough School Bus Drivers and Monitors Ratify Teamster Contract

August 29, 2017

School Bus Workers for Kids with Special Needs Gain Improved Working Conditions

(MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass.) – Teamster school bus drivers and monitors with Middleborough Public Schools have overwhelmingly ratified a three-year agreement.

The drivers and monitors, members of Teamsters Local 653 in South Easton, voted 22-1 in favor of the agreement. There are 26 workers in the bargaining unit who transport students with special needs. (more…)

More Than 400 Illinois School Bus Workers Ratify 3 Teamster Contracts

June 14, 2017

Teamsters Local 777 Wins Fair Wages for First Student Drivers and Aides

(CHICAGO) – More than 80 percent of First Student school bus drivers and aides have voted to approve new contracts in Glen Ellyn, Elk Grove Village and Villa Park, Ill., increasing wages and other benefits for more than 400 school bus industry workers.

The drivers and aides are members of Teamsters Local 777, which fought to secure higher starting wages for workers and give First Student employees raises across the board. (more…)

Teamster Local 179 Bus Driver, Monitor Save Children from Fire

June 8, 2017

Teamsters Local 179 members Joyce Marfell, left, and Monica Lally, right, saved four children from a school bus fire

Members’ Heroism a Prime Example of Teamster Commitment to School Bus Safety

May 22, 2017 was just a normal day for Bus Driver Monica Lally and Monitor Joyce Marfell. They were on their way to Patterson Elementary School, transporting four students as they normally do. But then, disaster struck unexpectedly.

Lally and Marfell were on their way to pick up the fifth and final student when Lally noticed smoke coming from the hood of the vehicle.

“I radioed to the yard to make sure they knew about the situation. The smoke started and quickly grew, and then it turned black,” Lally said. “I turned to Joyce, and I said ‘it’s time to evacuate.’ This is the first time anything like this has ever happened, I’m glad everyone ended up being OK.” (more…)

Teamsters Local 853 Make History at First Transit

June 2, 2017

Redwood City Teamsters Become First Dispatchers and Supervisors to Negotiate Agreement with Company

Workers at First Transit, Inc. in Redwood City, California who are members of Teamsters Local 853, ratified a first contract on May 11. The contract, which covers Dispatchers and Supervisors, is the first of its kind for the Teamsters Union.

“Congratulations to all of our members who worked hard and fought for a strong contract at First Transit,” said Rome Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 853. “These workers came together to fight hard for their rights, and their efforts are a great example of the work being done to improve conditions all across the passenger transportation industry.” (more…)

Teamsters Local 745 Ratifies New Contract with First Student

April 19, 2017
Teamsters Local 745 celebrate their new contract

Agreement Ratified by 100 Percent of Participating Drivers, School Bus Monitors

(DALLAS, Texas) – Members of Teamsters Local 745 unanimously ratified a first contract with First Student Transportation in Lewisville, TX on March 31, 2017. Local 745 organized the 381 school bus monitors and drivers that service The Colony and Lewisville Independent School Districts (TX) in 2016.

The contract includes some significant improvements, including wage increases ranging from 17-19 percent over the course of four years, guaranteed pay for all time served, an increase in the eligibility for overtime, and coverage of the membership under Teamsters Local 745’s grievance procedure process. (more…)

Niagara Falls Coach Lines School Bus Monitors To Join Teamsters Local 264

April 10, 2017
Niagara Fall Coach Lines school bus monitors celebrating their win

Drivers Welcome Co-workers After Landslide Yes Vote by Newest Members

(NIAGARA FALLS, New York) – Fifty school bus monitors working for Niagara Falls Coach Lines have voted to join Teamsters Local 264. The final margin was 41-2 in favor of joining the union.

Wages were among the biggest concerns for the school bus monitors: the workers currently get minimum wage with no benefits, and after watching the drivers at their company get wage raises consistently under a Teamster contract, they decided to reach out to the local. (more…)

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