Durham School Bus Drivers Speak Out About Safety, Human Rights Concerns
BAGDAD, Fla., April 18, 2013
International and Local Leaders Learn About School Bus Conditions
BAGDAD, Fla., April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being
released by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters:
School bus drivers from Milton, Pace and Navarre, Fla., shared serious
concerns today over safety, service and working conditions at Durham School
Services with a panel of international union representatives, trade unionists
from the U.S. and prominent community leaders.
The drivers testified at a forum about workplace safety and service issues
that may impact the safe transportation of area schoolchildren.
"I have seen firsthand many practices at Durham that raise serious concerns,"
said Kim McLaughlin, a 25-year driver who works at Durham. "Many of our buses
regularly have fluid leaks, tires that need to be replaced and emergency
equipment that doesn't work."
"I am concerned about the safety of our school buses and the transportation
services we deliver at Durham. I am also concerned that even when drivers
raise safety concerns, we are often ignored, and in some cases, yelled at for
raising our concerns," said Diane Bence, a driver at Durham's Navarre
location. "I love my kids and I want to make sure they are safe."
Bence detailed concerns over black mold on the buses, workers operating buses
while sick because they cannot afford to miss a day of work and drivers not
being paid for all the time they work.
About 210 school bus drivers and monitors work for Durham in Santa Rosa
County. Durham is the second-largest school bus company in the United States
and a subsidiary of National Express Group PLC, a United Kingdom-based
multinational transportation company.
Representatives from international labor unions that represent National
Express workers across Europe traveled to the U.S. to attend today's forum.
International panel members included trade unionists from Unite the Union in
the U.K., the International Transport Workers' Federation and German unions
ver.di and EVG.
"The security of the buses must come first. I'm here to collect my impressions
and share them with National Express management, to let them know that the bad
treatment of workers in the U.S. has to stop, and that they need to have a
good reputation in Germany and worldwide," said Dirk Schlomer, a
representative of EVG in Germany, where National Express recently won awards
to operate passenger rail transport.
"In the U.K., National Express recognizes the trade unions and readily
consults and enters into collective bargaining with my union, Unite. If it's
good enough for the U.K., then why not for the U.S. drivers?" said Bobby
Morton, national officer for transport with Unite the Union.
U.S. panel members included Dr. Arthur M. Rocker Sr., Chair of the Florida
Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a prominent civil rights leader,
and Michael Wasser, Senior Policy Analyst with American Rights at Work, who
served as the delegation chair.
The delegation traveled to Santa Rosa County from Charleston, S.C., where on
Tuesday they heard testimony from Durham drivers on problematic safety,
service and work conditions there.
School bus drivers with Durham in Santa Rosa County voted overwhelmingly in
February to join Teamsters Local 991 in Mobile, Ala., overcoming an aggressive
anti-union campaign by Durham management as they worked to form their union.
The company filed objections to their election, and a National Labor Relations
Board hearing officer recently recommended that all of the objections be
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued 57 formal complaints
since 2001 against Durham, which resulted in settlements. The complaints came
as a result of charges by Durham workers, including disparate treatment,
discipline and discharge of employees engaged in union organizing;
surveillance of workers engaged in union activity; and threatening workers
with reduction in benefits, working conditions and the loss of employment for
Drive Up Standards is a global campaign to improve safety, service and work
standards in the private school bus and transit industry. For information on
the Teamsters Drive Up Standards campaign, go to
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 @Teamsters and
"like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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