Teamsters Fight for School Bus Workers' Rights at National Express Annual Meeting
(LONDON) – Teamster school bus drivers and representatives from the United States and Canada called on National Express Group (NEX), a large multinational corporation, to honor the human rights of its North American workers at the company’s annual meeting held in London.
“We are here to call on National Express’s investors to insist this company do what is right and just. It’s time that this company honors the basic human rights of its hardworking employees by instituting a real freedom of association policy, rather than putting out a sham policy and blatantly violating all global human rights standards,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer.
The delegation traveled to the United Kingdom over serious concerns about National Express’s negative human rights and labor relations record at its North American subsidiaries, Durham School Services in the U.S. and Stock Transportation in Canada.
Between 2001 and 2011, more than 200 unfair labor practice (ULP) charges were filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Durham School Services. In regard to 52 cases, the ULPs were of such serious nature that the NLRB was prepared to issue a formal complaint against the company. The ULPs raised concerns of unlawful terminations, surveillance, retribution and disparate treatment of its employees who supported unions.
At the May 2011 annual shareholder meeting, National Express introduced a purported global “Workplace Rights Policy”, which was seemingly prompted by an upsurge in interest among U.S.-based workers to join a union and was implemented in a bid to preempt criticism of National Express Group’s questionable labor relations record in the U.S.
A recent report, “National Express Group’s Diminution of Labor Rights in the U.S.,” concluded that the company’s policy enables it to continue its anti-worker behavior rather than appropriately protecting the human rights of its workers. The report was written by Professor John Logan, Director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University College of Business.
Linda Aguiar, a 25-year driver from Livermore, Calif., who recently voted with her co-workers to join Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif., traveled to the United Kingdom to call on National Express to respect its workers’ rights.
Aguiar said the company had been taking wages from her and her co-workers for years, and when they stood together to demand justice and form a union, the so-called “Workplace Rights Policy” appeared as if it was being utilized to threaten and intimidate the workers, not protect them.
“Management posted a sign that said, ‘You could lose your wages and benefits in collective bargaining.’ Meanwhile, my co-workers and I had to go to court in a class action lawsuit over wage and hour violations by the company. We received a $7 million payment that covered 4,000 past and present Durham workers in California,” Aguiar said.
Rosie Miranda and her Durham co-workers in San Jose, Calif., saw their pay and benefits reduced so much at their bus yard in the past year that Rosie, a driver, could not longer afford her home. She and her teenage son had to move into her mother’s small one bedroom apartment. Stories like Rosie’s are not uncommon at National Express.
“There is no reason why a profitable company like National Express should have workers living in poverty, struggling to get by, and afraid of getting fired for simply trying to form a union. We’re here to let everyone know that the Teamsters will not stand for such blatant and atrocious violations,” said Sebrina Isom, a Durham school bus driver and member of Teamsters Local 509 in Cayce, S.C.
The Teamsters were part of an international delegation joined by colleagues from Unite the Union, the International Transport Workers Federation and Transport Workers Union. The delegation delivered postcards that said, “National Express Violates Human Rights” to shareholders entering the annual meeting. The postcards told the stories of three National Express workers whose rights had been violated by the company.
For more information, visit http://www.durhamschoolservices101.com/.
For information on the Teamsters Drive Up Standards campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry, go to http://www.driveupstandards.org/.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @TeamsterPower.