(WASHINGTON) – More than three years after Durham School Services bus drivers and monitors voted overwhelmingly for union representation in Santa Rosa County, Fla., Teamsters Local 991 announced the company has agreed to meet at the bargaining table beginning July 12.
The announcement comes less than a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals denied Durham’s appeal to contest the certification of the workers’ 2013 election for representation by Teamsters Local 991 in Mobile, Ala.
“We are elated to finally be on our way to negotiating the protections and safety provisions that school bus workers have long needed in Santa Rosa,” said Sue Butts, a 16-year school bus driver who has been working alongside Local 991 to win union recognition from Durham. “There is a lot of work still ahead of us, but I am hopeful the company will respect our concerns and negotiate a fair contract.”
There are approximately 200 school bus workers in the unit that voted overwhelmingly to join Teamsters Local 991 in February 2013. 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.
“After more than three years of evading its responsibility, the company has finally acknowledged its employees’ right to a union. We are committed to bargaining a fair contract expeditiously and in good faith and expect the same from Durham,” said Jim Gookins, Teamsters Local 991 Secretary-Treasurer. “These workers stood strong and united to defend their rights. I applaud them on this much-deserved but long-overdue step toward a collectively-bargained contract.”
Local 991 is preparing to begin the negotiation process, added Gookins, noting that the union has set dates to meet with the workers to discuss proposals seeking improvements to safety and working conditions.
“We always knew that a huge company like Durham could afford to do better. We expect management to follow through on their word and negotiate a contract that will raise standards for workers and the students we transport,” said Kim McLaughlin, a 28-year school bus driver for Santa Rosa County.
The Teamsters Drive Up Standards campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry began in 2006. Since then, more than 36,500 North American school bus and transit workers have become Teamsters.
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.