Phyllis Hodo, a driver, said she got 102 text messages from her co-workers who were excited about the victory. "I'm losing my voice from all the cheering we've been doing!" she said.
The drivers voted to join the Teamsters because they want seniority to count, fair pay, better and more affordable health insurance and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Michael Haffner, the secretary-treasurer of Local 301, pointed out that this is the second bargaining unit at Durham the local has organized. In September, 45 school bus drivers with Durham in nearby Antioch became Teamsters.
It wasn't an easy victory, but solidarity carried the day. During the campaign, the company tried to intimidate workers. The Teamsters filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board on their behalf. The NLRB made the company remove unfair write-ups on three workers. As part of a settlement with the Board, Durham was also required to post a notice that they would comply with federal law in not interfering with the workers' rights to organize. Durham had to agree that it
WILL NOT threaten to take away [our] regularly scheduled raise if [we] support Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization.
WILL NOT create and enforce a rule forbidding [us] from talking about Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization or threaten [us] with discipline if [we] talk about Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization.
WILL NOT discipline [us] because [we] support or engage in activities on behalf of Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization.
WILL NOT in any like or related manner coerce [us] or interfere with [our] exercise of any of the rights stated above.
The Teamsters have organized more than 30,000 school bus drivers, monitors, aides, mechanics and attendants. Looking ahead, Joint Council 25 President John Coli said the Teamsters intend to negotiate a strong contract that values the hard work that they do. Last month, nearly 200 First Student school bus drivers and aides overwhelmingly ratified their first-ever union contract as members of Teamsters Local 777.