Friday, November 6, 2015

NLRB sides with Fla. bus driver in dispute with Durham

In the latest positive development for school bus workers in Santa Rosa County, Fla., a National Labor Relations (NLRB) administrative law judge has ruled in favor of Durham school bus driver Diane Bence, one of the leading voices for the 200-person unit who recently took her case to the board after years of anti-worker behavior and lack of union recognition from the company.

Diane Bence
After visiting the United Kingdom with Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa more than a year ago to protest Durham’s parent company National Express, Bence became a victim of constant harassment and intimidation from the company. That included its CEO, who during Bence’s visit made disparaging comments to her that the NLRB administrative law judge found to be in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

According to the Florida school bus driver, the icing on the cake came in literal form, as Durham management tried to stop her and her co-workers from partaking in cake during the unit’s two-year election anniversary this spring:
The real tipping point came when we held an event to recognize the two years since voting to form our union with Local 991. We had a cake with Teamsters written in icing and management made us scrape off the icing. It was humiliating and illegal, so we filed another ULP.
The decision marks the 22nd ruling in favor of the Florida workers in the two-and-a-half years since the unit overwhelmingly voting to join the Teamsters Union in 2013, but Local 991 President Jim Gookins is still waiting for the company to meet at the bargaining table to negotiate the workers a contract:
The company has fought us every step of the way, appealing to the NLRB after every ruling. But we continue to be on the winning side of this fight. This victory is due to hard work and the perseverance of Diane and her co-workers. I applaud them for their commitment and determination.
Since voting overwhelmingly to become Teamsters, Bence has been on the front lines of the fight for union representation, leading her unit to stand strong and united in the face of aggressive anti-union tactics from management. She and her co-workers remain committed to put an end to the anti-worker assaults and win union recognition:
After more than two years waiting for a contract, it’s time for the company to quit playing games. This is just further incentive to stick together and see this thing through. I have total faith in this unit. My co-workers and I will remain vigilant and continue to urge management to meet with the Teamsters to begin the collective bargaining process.