My name is Willie Barnes and I’ve been driving a school bus for 18 years. I’ve been a shop steward for approximately eight years.
I want to share a story about our yard, First Student’s St. Andrews terminal in Los Angeles.
I was on the negotiation committee for our five-year union contract with First Student and we have a strong contract.
First Student has a contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second-largest district in the country. St. Andrews terminal is the central contractor yard for LAUSD because of its location, which is surrounded by L.A. schools.
First Student has purchased a new fleet of buses. Now the students and parents we transport daily feel safe. Our drivers appear motivated and happy to serve the customer, LAUSD, which is the major customer in school-busing in California. Ninety percent of our yard has gone green, meaning our buses are gas, propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled, which helps the environment.
Our yard has received more routes than we can handle. We have drivers from other yards helping cover these routes. Some of these drivers are from other unions, but we have come together as a team to ensure our students’ safety. Our training department wasn’t able to train enough drivers before school started on August 13, 2013, so First Student temporarily moved drivers from its other facilities. St. Andrews is known as the central contractor yard for LAUSD and our drivers are very proud to work at this terminal.
I really enjoy my job as a driver. To all my fellow school bus drivers, let’s always remember that the cargo we transport is our future. As I tell my students, one day they may be a doctor, lawyer, judge, senator or president. When that child steps aboard your bus, the parents trust us to get them to and from school safely!