Teamsters Local 777 Refuses to Compromise on School Bus Safety
LYONS, Ill., Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters Local 777 and the Cook-Illinois Corporation have reached a deadlock in negotiating a contract for the 270 school bus drivers and monitors who work at Alpha School Bus, a subsidiary of Cook-Illinois. Negotiations have stalled as a result of the company's unwillingness to move forward on important issues, including public safety and decent working conditions.
"We are seeking strong safety language and strong worker protection language, but the contractor has not agreed with us on these terms. When it comes to sitting at the table and talking about the issues that matter, they have been defiant," said Jim Glimco, President of Local 777 in Lyons, Ill. "Our number one goal is to make certain that the drivers and monitors at Alpha have the highest standards of safety in transporting children. We maintain that public safety should never be compromised."
Cook-Illinois workers have formed the Cook Action Network (CAN) and engaged in a long-term campaign to bring workers' rights and school bus safety to the company. A recent CAN report outlines the various safety and workers' rights issues at the company.
Glimco points to the First Student national master agreement as the standard-bearer in the school bus industry. Illinois Teamsters with Local 777 and Local 179 recently negotiated a similar master agreement with Illinois Central School Bus. The agreement creates a high standard for safety and worker protections at the nation's fifth-largest school bus company.
The agreement covers 600 existing Teamster members at Illinois Central, as well as all future members. It gives drivers the right to refuse to drive an unsafe bus, an important step in ensuring the safety of schoolchildren and communities throughout Illinois.
"The master agreement with Illinois Central, along with the Teamsters' national master agreement with First Student, creates a high standard for safety and other protections that the rest of the industry will have to follow. Cook-Illinois needs to rise to the standard followed by its competitors," Glimco said.
Local 777's negotiations team, which includes five Alpha school bus drivers, will meet with Cook-Illinois management on Dec. 26. Should the company fail to negotiate in good faith, the workers may consider authorizing a job action.
Workers at Alpha joined Local 777 in September 2012 after a two-year battle to form their union. The drivers and monitors faced fierce resistance to their efforts to join Local 777 from Cook-Illinois management.
Cook-Illinois is the nation's sixth-largest private provider of student transportation services, operating 14 subsidiaries in Illinois.
Teamsters Local 777 represents 3,400 workers, including 2,000 school bus workers in Northern Illinois.
SOURCE Teamsters Local 777