School bus drivers and monitors with First Student in Rock Falls, Illinois, have voted by a nearly 2-1 margin to be represented by Teamsters Local 722 in La Salle, Illinois. The 72 workers united over a need for affordable health insurance, respect and a say in their working conditions.
“I feel validated,” said driver Jamie Preston of the 38-20 vote to join the Teamsters. “I hope now to get the respect I have worked so hard to earn.”
Preston’s coworker, Denise Lehrer, now a third-generation Teamster, also put in a great effort with her coworkers to unite.
“Becoming Teamsters has brought us together as a strong team,” Lehrer said. “It has given us the strength to make the company listen to our voice. This is a very proud moment for our yard.”
The victory was made possible by the combined efforts of Local 722, Joint Council 65 and the International Union in helping the workers organize.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the new members to gain a collective bargaining agreement,” said Steve Mongan, President of Local 722. “I’d like to thank the International Union, organizers Jim Leonhardt and Jon Thomas in particular, for their dedication. We now look forward to moving forward to negotiate a contract for our new members as soon as possible.”
“This was an excellent effort by Local 722, the Joint Council and the International Union to further expand our efforts to organize at First Student,” said Keith E. Gleason, President of Teamsters Joint Council 65.
The victory is the latest in an effort to organize private school bus and transit workers across the country. Drive Up Standards is a national campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry. Since the campaign began in 2006, more than 17,500 drivers, monitors, aides, mechanics and attendants have become Teamsters.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.