Teamsters Back School Bus Drivers in Fight Against ‘Rampant’ Wage Theft

by Bruce Vail

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Baltimore area bus drivers, shown here protesting wage theft last May, will collect $1.25 million from employer Durham School Services once their settlement is finalized in April. Photo via Teamsters Local 570

More than 350 Baltimore-area bus drivers are preparing to celebrate victory in a $1.25 million wage theft case against Durham School Services, an Illinois-based bus-contracting company with operations across much of the country.

The case, which covers the employees at Durham between March 2010 and September 2013, reflects a troubling national trend of companies cheating workers out of their earnings. “Wage theft is a huge problem, and it’s outrageous,” says Andrew Freeman, one of the attorneys at Brown Goldstein Levy, the Baltimore-based firm that filed the suit against Durham last year. In their suit, the plaintiffs accused the company of failing to pay employees for overtime work such as bus inspections, bus cleanings, fueling, and other related tasks.

The settlement of the U.S. District Court case should be finalized April 4, with distribution of the stolen wage money following immediately afterward, says Moe Jackson, a union organizer for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 570. For almost two years, the local has been trying to organize the drivers and aides at Rosedale, Jackson says, where employees are also bristling over low pay, substandard benefits and overbearing management practices. The Teamsters initiated the wage theft case on behalf of the workers, officers say, as a step in the unionizing process. Continue reading

Boston School Bus Drivers Win New Contract in Alliance with Occupy Boston

[Editorial Note]
USWA Local 8751 representing 800 school bus drivers in Boston has supported the Occupy Movement from the start. Union members rallied regularly with the Occupy Boston encampment at Dewey Square and Occupy the Hood in Roxbury’s Dudley Square. They joined marches with Verizon and Hyatt Hotel workers and set up sound trucks for anti-war and labor marches.

In December 2011 the school bus drivers succeeded in winning a sharp contract fight with the British-based service contractor First Student. This report, written by the Local Union Vice-President, is reposted as part of our Labor and Occupy series, first appearing in Workers World.

bySteve Gillis

Following nearly a year of bitter struggle, the 800 members of the Boston School Bus Drivers’ Union, United Steelworkers Local 8751 rang in the new year, having won a successful contract. It contained the first-ever “Retirement with Dignity” package for those who have served the city’s schoolchildren and the cause of equal, quality education since 1974.

The city’s bosses had planned 2012 quite differently for these workers. Last spring, British-based First Student, a monopoly stakeholder in U.S. school bus transportation, and its client, the city of Boston, presented the drivers’ union with 43 concessions at the bargaining table — a relentless strategy private and public employers have pushed with devastating effect across the nation.
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