(CHARLESTON, S.C.) – Teamsters applaud the Charleston County School Board members for their unanimous (9-0) vote Monday night to conduct an investigation into unsafe practices by Durham School Services, the school bus transportation contractor for Charleston County schools.
The investigation is expected to look into health and sanitation; maintenance of the buses; capacity and overcrowding of buses; and employee-employer work relations.
Charleston school bus drivers who are members of Teamsters Local 509 in West Columbia, S.C., parents, students, community and faith leaders attended the school board meeting to raise continued safety and service concerns with Durham.
Driver concerns have included cockroaches and mold on the buses, as well as bus overcrowding and breakdowns.
“We have been raising safety concerns for over a year, but Durham gives excuses instead of fixing the problems. I have to worry about roaches and spiders on my bus,” said Felicia Anderson, a Durham driver. “I’m thankful for this school board’s commitment to ensuring all our children have a safe ride to and from school.”
“I’ve been driving for Durham for seven years. I hear all the problems drivers announce over the radio, like seat belts that won’t work or bald tires. Who knows when or if they’ll get fixed,” said Ray Estelle, a Durham driver. “I want to thank you for listening to our concerns and taking them seriously.”
“The Teamsters Union supports our members at Durham School Services as they raise these critical issues. We commend the Charleston County School Board for their leadership and decisive action to conduct an investigation,” said L.D. Fletcher, President of Teamsters Local 509.
The NAACP Charleston chapter, Rep. Wendell Gilliard (111th District) and numerous other community, political and faith leaders have also recently spoken out publicly about safety conditions at Durham.
A survey of Durham school bus drivers in Charleston last year revealed that two-thirds experienced a breakdown with students onboard and 60 percent reported being required to transport students over capacity.
Durham is the second-largest school bus company in the United States and a subsidiary of National Express Group PLC, a United Kingdom-based multinational transportation company.
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 36,500 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have become Teamsters.
For more information on the Teamsters Drive Up Standards campaign, go to http://www.driveupstandards.org.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.