Thursday, May 17, 2012

Laid-off GA Teamsters protest UI benefit cuts

Georgia's DOL secretly cut off their unemployment benefits.
Oh this is just nasty. Teamsters First Student bus workers in Georgia have collected unemployment during the summer for years. But the Georgia Department of Labor decided to change the regulations recently and didn't tell them -- just as summer arrives.
Laid-off school bus drivers from Local 728 rallied yesterday against the injustice. 
WSAV reports:
The issue is that for well over a decade, the up to 400 drivers who work for First Student in Chatham County have been receiving unemployment benefits for the two months that school is out.  The ruling took many by surprise, most only finding out when they went to the Career Center to apply.  "They just told us like two weeks ago, oh by the way, you're not getting unemployment, so we didn't have time to make a plan," says Marion Ciccarelli, a new bus driver.
"We've got single parents that depend on this," says Jerome Irwin from Teamsters Local 728, who is the job steward for First Student.  What are they going to do without any money?" 
Irwin says the ruling affects people across the state.  "You've got bus drivers, monitors, you've got cafeteria workers out of Savannah State, all over the state, really. It's going to affect a bunch of people," he tells me.
WTOC reports:
More than 100 school bus drivers are upset that they won't be getting unemployment benefits during the summer months. 
They said they're laid off from school once the school year ends and they want their jobless benefits.
Bus drivers stood with their union representatives, trying to make a point and send a message to the state's labor department in Atlanta and DOL Director Mark Butler, that the change the agency made in the rule earlier this year is not sitting well with them. 
The bus drivers said they weren't notified and that they're unprepared for the summer months without any compensation coming in. 
"Nobody wants to do our job, but nobody wants to pay us. But then comes September, when we need bus drivers to do the job that nobody wants to do, what happens then? We're not out here to go on welfare," Leslie Jenkins, a bus driver with First Student.