U.S. School Bus Workers Join UK Trade Unionists
(BIRMINGHAM, England) – Teamster school bus drivers who work at National Express Group PLC (NEX: LN) rallied with British members of Unite the Union outside the company’s headquarters today, demanding the multinational transport company honor the human rights of its North American workers.
The drivers expressed their concerns over what the union believes are National Express’s anti-worker, anti-union policies in its North American operations, which includes Durham School Services L.P. (“Durham”) in the U.S. and Stock Transportation in Canada.
They delivered a letter from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa to National Express Group Chief Executive Dean Finch, calling on National Express to better respect the rights of its workers. Read the letter at www.teamster.org/
“It is deeply concerning when a United Kingdom-based public limited company engages in conduct that violates U.S. workers’ rights and deprives them of decent working conditions and respect. National Express’s subsidiaries should be operating in the pursuit of the highest standards, not failing to uphold the human rights that should be afforded to all its workers throughout the world,” Hoffa said.
Sebrina Isom, a former Durham driver and member of Teamsters Local 509 in West Columbia, South Carolina, USA, came to England for the second year in a row. The 25-year school bus driver traveled there to speak up for U.S. school bus workers.
“We are here to hold this company accountable. In my view, their anti-worker behavior has to stop,” Isom said. “We transport children, we work hard and it’s not too much to ask that National Express take more responsibility and treat us with fairness and respect.”
“I believe National Express has earned the reputation in all its operations as being the most hostile of the big British employers toward its employees,” said Tom Cashman, a National Express driver and shop steward from the South East coach station.
The delegation of Teamster school bus workers is meeting this week with major National Express stakeholders—union leaders, investors and political leaders—about the company’s negative human rights and labor relations record in North America.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which oversees U.S. labor law, issued 57 informal complaints since 2001 against Durham. These complaints 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; surveilling workers engaged in union activity; and threating workers with reduction in benefits, working conditions and the loss of employment for supporting unionization.
Durham recently filed objections with the NLRB to the union election in Santa Rosa County, Florida, USA, despite a strong vote in favor of unionization by the workers. The company claimed that the NLRB held no authority to investigate or hold a hearing, relying on a recent court decision—a theory that the Teamsters believe would disenfranchise the workers. The NLRB’s decision is pending.
“We voted overwhelmingly to have our union, but the company is not respecting our decision,” said Diane Bence, a Durham driver from Santa Rosa County who traveled to Birmingham, U.K. “Durham told us they would respect our vote, but that was before we voted. After the vote, the company didn’t respect what the majority of us wanted.”
National Express is the second-largest operator of school bus services in North America. The Teamsters represent 4,700 National Express workers. The company reports that 94 percent of the U.K. work force is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, as compared to only 32 percent of its North American work force.
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 http://www.driveupstandards.