Teamsters from all over the country recently gathered in Chicago at a national bus organizing meeting hosted by the IBT Passenger Transportation Division. Local union officers, members, business agents and union organizers discussed the steps the division has taken in 2018 to increase Teamster power in the industry. They also strategized on how to build upon that power as they look to 2019 and beyond.
Joint Council 25 President Terry Hancock opened the meeting, welcoming the attendees to the Chicago-area. Hancock proudly noted that nearly 15 percent of the union’s bus membership is represented by Teamster Locals in Joint Council 25.
General President James P. Hoffa addressed the meeting, congratulating the attendees on the work that had been done to bring tens of thousands of workers from the private school bus industry into the union.
“When we first started organizing in this industry, nobody thought we could have the incredible level of success that we’ve had,” Hoffa said. “It’s been a tremendous effort, but it wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight.”
Mr. Hoffa went on to congratulate Passenger Transportation Division Director and International Vice President Rick Middleton on the success his team had in 2018. The division recently secured a master agreement with North American Central School Bus and finally brought National Express/Durham School Services to the table to negotiate an agreement that put an end to the company’s anti-union tactics during organizing campaigns.
Some of the topics discussed in the meeting included current membership trends, organizing opportunities and positive developments in the relationships that the Teamsters have with the largest employers in the industry.
Teamsters Local 777 President Jim Glimco and Local 777 Shop Steward Mildred Cross addressed the group about the positive impact of school bus organizing on their lives and livelihoods.
Glimco directly credited successful bus organizing campaigns with strengthening his local.
“When we started organizing over 11 years ago our local had 1600 members,” Glimco said. “Now we have almost 4,000. For organizing, now is the time to do it, and at my local, it has made a big difference.”
Cross spoke about what being a Teamster has meant to her personally. Teamster bus organizing has led to industry leading contracts that have significantly increased wages and improved working conditions.
“People are afraid of change, but our job is to tell people that your job is better when you get the union,” Cross said. “We get civility, respect and dignity. We want everyone to know that as union members, we pay taxes, we work hard to support our families and we deserve all of the benefits we are given.”