Drivers and Monitors for Summerville's Dorchester District 2 Unite for Respect
WASHINGTON, April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- School bus drivers and monitors with Durham School Services in Summerville, S.C., have voted to join Teamsters Local 509, uniting for respect and fair treatment in their workplace.
The 165 drivers and monitors, who transport school children for Dorchester County School District 2, were determined to form their union with the Teamsters in the face of strong resistance by company management to their efforts to organize. Durham, a private company, took over school bus operations for the district last year.
"This is the start of a new beginning for all of us. Everyone is excited and glad that this victory belongs to us," said Annette Hill, a driver. "I voted Teamsters because I want us to have respect."
"We need to be treated fairly and as adults. I enjoy the kids and the people I work with, but morale here is in the basement. I supported forming our union so we can have fairness and respect," said Roger Shepherd, a monitor.
Durham Teamster members from Beaufort and Charleston, S.C., helped their Summerville co-workers by taking the time to educate them on the benefits of building a strong union. This support was critical, as the Summerville drivers and monitors were subjected to a vicious campaign of fear, division and worker intimidation by the company. The union and workers have filed unfair labor practice charges for a number of legal violations by the company.
Political leaders, including Rep. David J. Mack, III (D-District 109), came out to the Summerville yard to show support for the workers and their right to organize.
"I have always supported workers being able to organize in order to get the quality of life, pay and benefits that they deserve. I am very interested in Durham sitting at the table to negotiate to improve working conditions," Rep. Mack, III said.
Durham is a subsidiary of National Express Group, a large multinational corporation based in the United Kingdom.
L.D. Fletcher, President of Cayce-based Teamsters Local 509, is looking forward to representing the workers to improve their working conditions.
"I'm glad we could help them organize to have a fair voice and be treated fairly in the workplace," Fletcher said.
The victory is the latest in an effort to organize private school bus and transit workers across the country. 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 34,000 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have become Teamsters.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @TeamsterPower.