You do not have to travel far to read about Laidlaw exploiting workers. Just after the school year finished I took a short trip up the coast to Oregon. I like to pick up little independent newspapers when I go to new areas to learn more about the local culture. This is what I found on the front page of one on them.

Drivin' School Buses

Fifteen women are taking on a corporate giant and the school district that
hired them. Bethel School District board members voted years ago to
subcontract their busing service to private contractors. Mayflower got the
nod and started hiring drivers previously working for the district, at
lower wages and few benefits. The school district saved money, off the
backs of the drivers. Then Laidlaw Transit bought out Mayflower and assumed
the contract with the district. They even negotiated extensions, which were
optional, through the end of the school year in 2000.

Things got worse. The drivers decided to organize and voted to go Teamsters
in March of 1998. Over a year later, they're still bargaining. But in March
of 1999, they decided to change tactics and developed a community campaign
to force the school board to take responsibility for their actions. The
drivers organized turnout at the public school board meetings. Over 80
people turned out to demand that the district place conditions in the bid
specifications that would require competing contractors to accept the wages
and benefits, and the drivers, if successful in winning the bid. The school
board agreed to do it.

The drivers learned that the ATU was also trying to get a contract from
Laidlaw in Corvallis and Tigard. Numerous charges had been filed with the
NLRB by both unions. They decided to coordinate activities which included
simultaneous work stoppages. Laidlaw responded by locking out the drivers
at Bethel. But the union provided out-of-work benefits and fought for
unemployment benefits, which were won. Laidlaw called off the lock-out
after three weeks. Laidlaw also settled with the Board on the pending
charges, basically admitting guilt and agreeing to obey the law. Still, the
Teamsters have seven new charges pending.

But bargaining continues. Laidlaw has refused to provide a living wage and
benefits to the Bethel drivers, although they have settled in the Portland
and Vancouver areas for wages and benefits in the $9-$13 an hour range.
Bethel drivers average $7 an hour. And you know that the State provides the
health benefits except for those drivers that  have spouses with dependent
coverage.

And the drivers fight on! Petition drives are under way in the community.
They demand that the school board set minimum wage and benefit standards,
much like Davis-Bacon does for construction projects with federal funding.
Laidlaw is expected to make a last and final offer and demand a vote this
week. The drivers will reject the offer, force continued bargaining, file
more ULPs and increase the pressure on the school board. These school bus
drivers know how to drive!!!

********                                                ********

                   LAIDLAW NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE
          BUS DRIVER NEED COMMUNITY LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Bethel School District bus drivers are facing harsh opposition from
Laidlaw, the multi-national company that contracts with the district for
school bus service.  Bethel tells the drivers they can't pay them more than
seven dollars and change because they have to return profits to their
stockholders.  The drivers formed a union last year, seeking representation
by Teamsters Local 206.  Their employer, Laidlaw, is refusing to accept
reasonable. modest proposals for increasing drivers' compensation.

        IT'S TIME TO LET LAIDLAW AND THE DISTICT KNOW
            THE COMMUNITY IS BEHIND THE DRIVERS

                THE COMMUNITY WANTS JUSTICE

                     *******************


TWO THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

1)  Attend the Bethel School Board meeting June 14, 7:00 PM at district
offices on Barger, just west of beltline.  Let the Board know the community
supports setting wage and benefit standards in its contracting guidleines,
to ensure justice on the job and quality service for our children and
future community leaders!

2) Bethel bus drivers have forwarded the following request.  Please take
time to send in letters to the Register Guard and others listed.

                        *******************

The school board has been willing to listen to testimony on this issue, but
wants both Laidlaw and Teamsters to know that the dispute needs to be
settled at the bargaining table.

We need letters written to the newspapers on the theme:

    Why is the community allowing the school board to sit on their hands
and
watch (big bully) Laidlaw, a multi-million dollar company, slap our school
bus drivers around.

        editor@eugeneweekly.com
        klcc@lanecc.edu
        rgletters@guardnet.com
        top.staff@efn.org

Thank you for your time in helping us get this accomplished.

**********  **********  **********  **********  **********
          Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network
              a Jobs with Justice affiliate

                P.O. Box 10272
                Eugene, OR 97440
                541-344-2829

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