School Bus Drivers Speak Out About Safety, Human Rights Concerns
Durham Drivers, Community Leaders Call for Better Safety and Working Conditions
OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- School bus drivers with Durham School Services in Hayward and Livermore, Calif., joined today with Teamster, political, religious and other community leaders at a "Driver Speak Out" to demand better working conditions.
"Every day these hardworking drivers transport our children to school, providing a vital service for our communities. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It's time that they are heard by this company," said Rome Aloise, President of Teamsters Joint Council 7 and International Vice President.
Several school bus drivers from the Hayward and Livermore Durham locations spoke out about poor working conditions at the company.
"Durham has been swapping our newer buses for the aging buses of another yard so they can stay compliant there, but we have at least one to several buses breaking down every day," said Ernie Talbott, a Livermore driver. "Where's Durham's commitment to safety and providing quality services?"
"I'm concerned about a lot of things," said Linda Aguiar, a 25-year Livermore driver. "We don't have paid sick leave and the health insurance Durham offers is too expensive for most drivers to afford, so they go without. It's a large portion of our meager earnings to have coverage if we get sick."
"This is a highly profitable company, but drivers are struggling to survive and support our families. For us this isn't about being comfortable; it's about our survival," said Maria Lopez, a Hayward driver.
Numerous political, community and religious leaders and organizations showed their support for the drivers, including Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland); Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer (District 2); Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan (District 3); Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan; Alameda Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Josie Camacho; Assembly member Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont); Rev. Tita Valeriano, Messiah Lutheran Church in Hayward and Hayward Congregations Organizing for Renewal; Rev. Daniel Buford, Allen Temple; Igor Tregub, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner; Andrew Dadko, Program Director for EBASE; Sophie Noero, Worksafe; author David Bacon; and California Young Democrats, Black Caucus.
Durham drivers in Hayward and Livermore are currently organizing with the Teamsters to improve their working conditions. The 180 drivers will vote in their Teamster election on Friday, Feb. 17.
Durham is a subsidiary of National Express Group, a large multinational corporation based in the United Kingdom. Durham is the second largest provider of school bus transportation services in the United States, servicing 11 school districts in northern California.
John Logan, Professor at San Francisco State University and Visiting Research Fellow at University of California-Berkeley, recently published a report exploring National Express Group's human rights record. The report detailed the company's anti-worker behavior in the U.S. and its failure to uphold international labor rights standards.
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 32,400 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have become Teamsters.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to www.teamster.org or follow us on Twitter @TeamsterPower.
SOURCE Teamsters Joint Council 7