(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) – School bus drivers and monitors who work at Durham School Services here voted last night to join Teamsters Local 327. The 269 workers will join thousands of other Durham employees nationwide already represented by the Teamsters.
From the beginning of the nearly yearlong organizing effort, safety issues have been at the top of the agenda. Drivers and monitors started organizing after a tragic 2016 school bus accident took the lives of six school children.
“After the accident, the drivers and monitors were concerned because there were still serious safety issues and the workers didn’t feel like they had a voice. That has been a big part of the organizing effort,” Local 327 President Joe Bennett said. “What we saw on the buses, it just affected the drivers, monitors and students.”
Other workplace issues were also important, such as wages, benefits, seniority and an end to favoritism on the job, but it went beyond that as well. “They wanted the respect and dignity they deserve, and they didn’t feel they got that when there were issues on the buses,” he added. “They weren’t getting the support they needed.”
Durham actively pressures workers not to join the union, creating division and hostility in the workplace. But Bennett is committed to working with every Durham worker in Chattanooga, bringing the together to demand much needed improvements. Bennet added that the support and encouragement from the IBT and Durham school bus workers from all over the country played a major role in the victory.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information.