Approximately 104 school bus workers that transport children attending Chicago Public Schools have voted overwhelmingly to join Teamsters Local 777.
“Each year things would get worse because no one was listening. Joining the union was the way for us to have our concerns finally addressed to make things better,” said Patrick Morris, a school bus driver with Paige Bus Enterprises, whose employees voted 59-16 to become Teamsters.
Morris cites his fellow drivers and monitors in the Chicagoland area as motivation for seeking representation with Local 777.
“We knew other school bus drivers in the city who were union members and making significantly higher wages and they were being treated far better by their employers,” Morris said.
The Paige workers had the assistance and support of dozens of Teamster school bus workers in their efforts to organize.
“The people on the ground helped make this happen,” said Elizabeth Gonzalez, Local 777 Business Agent. “Volunteer organizers were up as early as 5 a.m. to encourage their fellow school bus workers to join the fight to end the unfair treatment taking place at Paige Enterprises. Their win was a victory for school bus workers everywhere.”
Shortly after the vote, Paige announced it would be contesting the election, a move Local 777 President and Teamsters Joint Council 25 Trustee Jim Glimco called a “stall tactic,” intended to delay the process as long as possible.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Glimco following the announcement, noting the company’s long history of anti-union, anti-worker behavior.
“This election was a clear and decisive victory for these workers,” Glimco added. “The drivers and monitors made their choice clear; now management must respect their right to collective bargain and begin contract negotiations as soon as possible.”
Paige is a subsidiary of the Cook-Illinois Corporation, the sixth-largest school bus company in the United States.
The Cook-Illinois Corporation purchased Paige in 1998. Under new management, workers have noticed the change and felt the difference.
“I don’t think Cook-Illinois realizes the difficult work and important public service we do every day for this city,” Morris said. “It’s our job to get these kids to school safely and responsibly, and I think Paige should acknowledge our role for children and parents in this community. They should remember our contributions when they meet with the Teamsters to negotiate a contract.”
Teamsters Local 777 is an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, America’s premier labor union for Chicago, Illinois and northwest Indiana.