Drivin' School Buses Fifteen women are taking on a corporate giant and the school district that hired them. Bethel School District board members voted years ago to subcontract their busing service to private contractors. Mayflower got the nod and started hiring drivers previously working for the district, at lower wages and few benefits. The school district saved money, off the backs of the drivers. Then Laidlaw Transit bought out Mayflower and assumed the contract with the district. They even negotiated extensions, which were optional, through the end of the school year in 2000. Things got worse. The drivers decided to organize and voted to go Teamsters in March of 1998. Over a year later, they're still bargaining. But in March of 1999, they decided to change tactics and developed a community campaign to force the school board to take responsibility for their actions. The drivers organized turnout at the public school board meetings. Over 80 people turned out to demand that the district place conditions in the bid specifications that would require competing contractors to accept the wages and benefits, and the drivers, if successful in winning the bid. The school board agreed to do it. The drivers learned that the ATU was also trying to get a contract from Laidlaw in Corvallis and Tigard. Numerous charges had been filed with the NLRB by both unions. They decided to coordinate activities which included simultaneous work stoppages. Laidlaw responded by locking out the drivers at Bethel. But the union provided out-of-work benefits and fought for unemployment benefits, which were won. Laidlaw called off the lock-out after three weeks. Laidlaw also settled with the Board on the pending charges, basically admitting guilt and agreeing to obey the law. Still, the Teamsters have seven new charges pending. But bargaining continues. Laidlaw has refused to provide a living wage and benefits to the Bethel drivers, although they have settled in the Portland and Vancouver areas for wages and benefits in the $9-$13 an hour range. Bethel drivers average $7 an hour. And you know that the State provides the health benefits except for those drivers that have spouses with dependent coverage. And the drivers fight on! Petition drives are under way in the community. They demand that the school board set minimum wage and benefit standards, much like Davis-Bacon does for construction projects with federal funding. Laidlaw is expected to make a last and final offer and demand a vote this week. The drivers will reject the offer, force continued bargaining, file more ULPs and increase the pressure on the school board. These school bus drivers know how to drive!!! ******** ******** LAIDLAW NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE BUS DRIVER NEED COMMUNITY LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Bethel School District bus drivers are facing harsh opposition from Laidlaw, the multi-national company that contracts with the district for school bus service. Bethel tells the drivers they can't pay them more than seven dollars and change because they have to return profits to their stockholders. The drivers formed a union last year, seeking representation by Teamsters Local 206. Their employer, Laidlaw, is refusing to accept reasonable. modest proposals for increasing drivers' compensation. IT'S TIME TO LET LAIDLAW AND THE DISTICT KNOW THE COMMUNITY IS BEHIND THE DRIVERS THE COMMUNITY WANTS JUSTICE ******************* TWO THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP: 1) Attend the Bethel School Board meeting June 14, 7:00 PM at district offices on Barger, just west of beltline. Let the Board know the community supports setting wage and benefit standards in its contracting guidleines, to ensure justice on the job and quality service for our children and future community leaders! 2) Bethel bus drivers have forwarded the following request. Please take time to send in letters to the Register Guard and others listed. ******************* The school board has been willing to listen to testimony on this issue, but wants both Laidlaw and Teamsters to know that the dispute needs to be settled at the bargaining table. We need letters written to the newspapers on the theme: Why is the community allowing the school board to sit on their hands and watch (big bully) Laidlaw, a multi-million dollar company, slap our school bus drivers around. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for your time in helping us get this accomplished. ********** ********** ********** ********** ********** Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network a Jobs with Justice affiliate P.O. Box 10272 Eugene, OR 97440 541-344-2829
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