Recently, First Student workers in Maywood, Ill. put together a cookout ahead of a vote to join Local 777. The day of the event, the weather turned bad and it was seven degrees out. There was concern that turnout would be dismal.
Those fears were unfounded, though, because more than 150 of the drivers and monitors were so excited to join the union that they turned out in the freezing cold.
They ended up overwhelmingly voting to join Local 777 in Lyons, Ill. The 220 drivers and monitors provide student transportation for Maywood and Chicago Public Schools. These workers were among a number of organizing victories at First Student yards around the country in recent months.
Chrystal Echols is one of the drivers who helped put together the cookout. She said there is so much enthusiasm because of the reputation Local 777 has at other First Student yards throughout Chicagoland.
“I have friends at some of the other First Student yards who are Teamsters and they are so grateful for it,” Echols said.
“Congratulations to everyone who worked hard to increase their wages and benefits by voting to join the Teamsters,” said Jim Glimco, President of Local 777.
Another group of First Student workers in Illinois joined the Teamsters recently. After a 45-day organizing campaign, 33 workers who provide student transportation for Cahokia School District 187 voted to join Local 50 in Swansea, Ill.
These new Local 777 and Local 50 Teamsters will immediately be covered under the First Student National Master Agreement, with a supplemental agreement to be negotiated in the near future.
“These workers were drawn to the Teamsters because of the seniority rights, regular pay raises and various other benefits associated with the contracts our members have at First Student,” said Pat Nichols, Local 50 President.
On December 2, 13 First Student school bus drivers who provide student transportation for Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough, Mass. voted to join Local 170 in Worcester. Organizer Shawn Stevens and Business Agent Jim Marks successfully organized the bus yard under the direction and support of Local 170 Secretary-Treasurer Shannon George.
“This was a team effort by all involved,” George said.
The victory is the latest in a growing movement of First Student workers in New England who are affiliating with the Teamsters: drivers at First Student Subsidiary Bay Path of Dudley/Charlton voted to join Local 170, as did the drivers for First Student of Westborough. Drivers in Hampton, N.H. also joined Local 633 in Manchester, which means that every First Student driver in the state is now covered by a Teamster contract.