(Crestwood, Ill.) – School bus drivers and attendants with Alpha School Bus joined today with hundreds of Teamsters, political, religious and community supporters, at a “Rally for Respect.”
About 270 Alpha drivers and attendants who transport Northern Illinois schoolchildren, mainly special needs children, have been fighting for years for respect and decent working conditions, including a living wage and better school bus safety standards at the company.
“You don’t hear this enough, but ‘thank you.’ Thank you for transporting our children. Thank you for having the courage to stand up to an employer that would rather keep you down. We are proud of you and we are standing together with all Alpha workers,” said Al Mixon, International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 507 in Cleveland.
Chanté Jones, a driver at Alpha, told the crowd about the struggles she and her coworkers have endured.
“This is a multi-million dollar company because of us, but we barely make enough to support our families. We need better safety standards and to be treated like human beings by this company. I know we are going to make a change, as long as we continue to stick together and form our union,” Jones said.
“The Alpha drivers and attendants have never wavered. You are an inspiration to school bus workers and workers everywhere who want a better life, and the ability to stand up to their anti-worker, anti-union employers,” said Jim Glimco, President of Teamsters Local 777 in Lyons, Ill.
Drivers and attendants at Alpha have been working to organize with the Teamsters since 2010. The company resisted the workers’ efforts, setting up a fake “union” called the Executive Committee. Understanding that they did not have true representation or a legally binding contract, the workers held an internal vote to affiliate with Local 777 in April 2011.
The vote resulted in an 8-1 margin in favor of affiliating with Local 777, yet the company did not respect the workers’ decision and refused to recognize Local 777 as their bargaining unit.
The workers remained determined to have a real union, reorganizing and filing for an election in June 2012.
Alpha workers will vote in their representation election on Friday, Sept. 28.
Teamster leaders and school bus members from around the country were in attendance at the rally, including Chicagoland Teamsters from Joint Council 25 local unions.
The Alpha workers have widespread support as they work together to form their union with the Teamsters. Their support network includes Teamster leaders and members locally and nationally; Cook Action Network (CAN); ARISE Chicago and Chicagoland clergy; and Michael Hastings, Board of Education member, High School District 230 and candidate for Illinois State Senate (District 19).
Alpha School Bus is a subsidiary of the Cook-Illinois Corporation, the nation’s sixth largest private provider of student transportation services. Cook-Illinois operates 14 subsidiaries in Illinois.
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 this company. A recent CAN report outlines the various safety and workers’ rights issues at the company.
Drive Up Standards is a national campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry. Since the Teamsters campaign began in 2006, 35,000 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have become Teamsters.
For more information on the Drive Up Standards campaign, go to www.driveupstandards.org.
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 Facebook Twitter @TeamsterPower and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Richard Knipp speaking at the Alpha School Bus Rally
Harvey Jackson, Richard Knipp, and Steward Robert Stanley at the
Alpha School Bus Rally