Teamsters Call on Benessere Vineyards Owner and Cook-Illinois CEO to Stop Squashing School Bus Workers' Rights
SAN FRANCISCO, June 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- School bus drivers with Cook-Illinois Corporation and Teamsters Joint Council 7 held a rally today at Benessere Vineyards in Napa Valley to call on its owner, John Benish Sr., to stop squashing Illinois school bus workers' rights.
Benish is CEO of Cook-Illinois Corporation, the nation's sixth largest school bus company. Cook-Illinois school bus drivers and Teamsters rallied outside Benish's picturesque St. Helena, Calif. vineyard, calling on him to respect school bus workers' rights and bus safety, while raising public awareness of their concerns.
"Mr. Benish bought this $4.4 million vineyard on the backs of school bus drivers. We are here today to let him and everyone know that the worker abuses and safety issues at Cook-Illinois have to stop. He needs to do right by us and the kids we transport," said Hazel Robinson, a driver with RichLee Vans, a subsidiary of Cook-Illinois in Arlington Heights, Ill.
"It's important that we let the head of this company know we need humane treatment, respect and to be allowed to form a union without repercussions at our job sites," said Bob Hollenback, a driver for Cook County School Bus, a Cook-Illinois subsidiary in Arlington Heights.
"I'm here to show my Teamster support for the Cook-Illinois school bus drivers. We all need to stand together because together we are stronger!" said Maria Lopez, a Durham School Services driver and member of Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif.
Outside Benessere Vineyards' "Garage Sale Wine Event", dozens of Cook-Illinois drivers and Teamsters gathered by the Teamsters Joint Council 7 truck. They handed informational leaflets to the public that read, "This Vineyard's Owner Squashes Bus Workers' Rights" and chanted, "Mr. Benish, don't hide behind your wine. Respect your workers- it's about time!"
"We are proud as Teamsters to stand in solidarity with the hardworking Cook-Illinois drivers who are seeking justice and accountability from their employer," said Rome Aloise, President of Teamsters Joint Council 7 and International Vice President.
Teamsters Local 777 and Joint Council 25 in northern Illinois have been fighting hard to bring justice to school bus workers at Cook-Illinois. The company employs approximately 2,200 workers at 14 subsidiaries in northern Illinois.
School bus drivers and Illinois communities have expressed concerns over the company's school bus safety and maintenance record. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued 56 violations of federal and state vehicle safety regulations against Cook-Illinois and its subsidiaries since 2007.
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 @Teamsters.
SOURCE Teamsters Joint Council 7