Like many union struggles, the Boston school bus driver fight has been a long one.
Four of the union’s leaders were unjustly and illegally fired by the union-busting Veolia Corp in November 2013—and still haven’t gotten their jobs back.
The company they are up against, recently renamed Transdev, is not only notorious for union-busting—which is bad enough—but Transdev supports Israeli apartheid by operating segregated rail lines in the occupied West Bank.
But unlike many protracted union struggles, this union—Steelworkers Local 8751, with a majority immigrant workforce of Haitian, Cape Verdean as well as African American workers—has won a series of stunning victories in its fight for justice.
The first one came in early March, when a transparent union-busting attempt by Veolia to frame union Vice President Steve Kirschbaum with a series of false felony charges was crushed. A working class jury returned a not-guilty verdict in a record ten minutes.
That was round one. Round two came when, in the union’s highest-ever election turnout, the members voted in the full slate of Team Solidarity candidates—led by the fired leaders!—by a landslide to the union’s Executive Board.
Team Solidarity’s winning slate, including the illegally fired leaders
One could compare this righteous upset to socialist labor leader Eugene Debs getting a million votes for U.S. president while in jail for opposing World War 1. As sweet as this second victory was, the members know that the third and final battle has not been won: the reinstatement of the four.
Veolia has gone even further in its attempts to break this mighty union. To give just one example, they illegally issued an ultimatum, with threats to eliminate a million dollars in retroactive pay raises, if the workers do not accept a concession-laden “last best offer” to replace the contract that expired June of last year. Not only is Veolia trying to starve out the four, the company is using every trick in the book to create a division between them and the membership as contract negotiations drag on.
Veolia has yet again underestimated the united resolve of this class-conscious, militant union, whose members march with the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ movement. But the four do need help to continue this fight. This isn’t the typical case of a strike where the union has a strike fund—though a strike may well be coming. The four fired drivers, out of work 22 months, are relying on solidarity donations to support themselves and their families while they fight for their jobs and perform their duties as elected union leaders.
Online campaign: youcaring.com/rehirethe4
Send checks to:
Friends of the School Bus 5
P.O. Box 141
Stoughton, MA 02072