Four leaders of the Boston School Bus Union -- President elect Andre Francois, Vice President elect Steve Kirschbaum, Financial Secretary elect Steve Gillis and Grievance Committee Chair elect Garry Murchison, were unjustly fired by the union-busting Veolia Corporation on Nov 1, 2013, and have been without a salary since while they have been fighting to regain their positions. Stop Union Busting, support justice for the drivers and safety for the school children of Boston.
HELP THE BOSTON SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS IN THEIR FIGHT AGAINST UNION-BUSTING AND RACIST AUSTERITY CUTS!
The struggle of the Boston School Bus Drivers against union-busting by the Veolia corporation and the Boston School Department continues! It needs your renewed personal and financial support.
On April 30, 2015, the militant, fighting rank & file of USW 8751 demonstrated a powerful electoral mandate for rehiring the four. The Team Solidarity Executive Board Election 2015 slate, led by the four illegally fired leaders, scored a stunning victory, capturing ALL positions by an unprecedented landslide. In the largest voter turnout in the history of the Local, the membership sent a message, loud and clear, to Veolia/Transdev, Boston Public Schools, and Mayor Walsh, that USW 8751 is prepared to fight and win a just contract with reinstatement of the 4 fired leaders and to unite with the community to struggle for equal quality education!
Veolia, a French based global conglomerate, has a trail of union busting and corporate ruthlessness around the world. Veolia businesses include privatizing transportation, energy, environmental services, water and more. In transportation alone, Veolia has waged anti-union campaigns against bus drivers from San Francisco (SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555) to Phoenix (ATU 1433); from Pensacola (ATU 1395) to Las Vegas (ATU 1637); and from Baltimore (UFCW 1994) to Denver (CWA 7777) to Seattle (ATU 587). Veolia’s standard tactics are to low bid city management contracts, then force concessions and cutbacks from the workers in clear violation of the existing union contracts, and service cutbacks and rate hikes from communities. When the workers and their unions resist, they threaten, harass, discipline and fire the union leaders and activists.
Despite signing an agreement to honor all terms and conditions of the USW 8751 contract on June 18, 2013, since Veolia took over management of the Boston School Bus transportation on July 1, 2013, they blatantly and systematically violated nearly every article regarding wages, benefits and working conditions. At the same time, they repudiated the established grievance and arbitration procedures. From July to June, the union has filed hundreds of individual and class action grievances. In August, the Steelworkers filed 18 Unfair Labor Practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board. On October 7th the company attempted to force the drivers to fill out new hire applications. The members also knew that due to the Federal Government shutdown at the time, they had no redress available. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
On the morning of October 8th the drivers reported to work and demanded a meeting with Veolia – whose top management as well as BPS / Menino officials were, for the first time ever, on site at the bus yards at 5:00 AM – concerning the company’s total failure to honor the contract. They refused for hours; then they called in the police, and at 11:00 am, the company locked the gates and evicted the drivers and City Councilor Charles Yancey under threat of arrest for trespassing. The workers’ request for a meeting was legally protected concerted union activity, and the company’s lockout was not only a violation of the contract but of federal law. There never was a wild cat strike. This allegation was a cruel hoax perpetrated against the Union by Veolia, with the aid of former Mayor Menino and his School Department and the Boston media. When Boston City Council called a hearing to investigate the events of October 8, 2013, Veolia, the Menino’s administration and Boston Public School officials boycotted. The City Council has vowed to continue the investigation. Veolia, in a clear attack on the organizational backbone of the union, singled out the four union leaders for firing. They have been out since the first week of November 2013.
Meanwhile BPS has initiated a massive budget cutting campaign that calls for closing schools and more privatization, cutting back summer programs for at risk youth, kicking middle school students off the yellow school bus, as well as reductions in union staff and services throughout the system. These austerity attacks will not only jeopardize equal quality education but will eliminate good union jobs in our communities!
Local 8751’s leaders feel strong and expect to win against Veolia’s attempt to housebreak their union.
However, the unemployment benefits of the four fired drivers have expired. The fired leaders – Steve Kirschbaum, Garry Murchison, Andre Francois and Steve Gillis – are attempting to wage this struggle with absolutely no income at all.
Team Solidarity is again requesting help in resurrecting the crowdsourcing campaign that was so successful the first time around.
This means, above all, taking a few moments to share this appeal with everyone you know.
If you can contribute $10, $15 or $50, please do. The most important thing, though, is to help spread the word.Helping the Boston school bus drivers prevail will be necessary to preserving an outstanding progressive local who fights for union rights as well as for LGBTQ rights and Palestine. It’s also necessary for keeping our leaders out of jail and fighting in the progressive struggle.
Most of all, a victory in Boston could be the turning-point spark that helps turn back the onslaught of austerity and push all poor and working people in a fightback direction.
Please help spread the word and contribute what you can.