A Letter About Union History - Jim Hartford !
By Jim Hartford
In 1979 we negotiated a labor agreement that made us the highest paid school bus drivers in the country (No longer the case). The Company (ARA Transportation) insisted that these high wages and benefits would allow other Bus Companies to outbid them. We refused to believe the Company. We were certain this was just a tactic to get us to lower our wage and benefit demands. We were wrong!
In 1980 a bus company called M&M Charter Lines bid a million dollars lower than ARA Transportation (now Iaidlaw). To defend ourselves we organized hundreds of school bus drivers, Labor Council members, parents and community supporters to confront the owner of M&M Charter Lines at the next School Board meeting. When it became apparent to M&M that we had strong community and Board support M&M'S owner stood up and said the Union had nothing to worry about because he would pay us our wages and benefits and agreed to hire every one of us. When he refused to put this guarantee in writing our union demanded that his bid be declared null and void. The School Board agreed with us and threw out his bid. M&M eventually sued and the school District and won an out of court settlement.
In 1982 to avoid having this chaotic situation happen again, we met with District officials and created the Prevailing Wage and Job Protection language that has been included in all subsequent bids. The purpose of this language is to keep one company from underbidding other companies by sacrificing the well being of the employees, parents and children who serve and belong to this community.
How did we as a Union accomplish this? The answer is simple and applies equally to our upcoming contract negotiations with Laidlaw. Our Union understands two fundamental principles: I) the power and strength of and-and-fire solidarity; and 2) our commitment to community support.
Our union throughout its history has been willing to give all necessary aid and comfort to other union and community groups who are threatened by our common enemies. We have recognized our mission and our responsibility. We brothers and sisters stand together as one. Let this serve as a warning to anyone who threatens us or our families. We are the San Francisco School Bus Drivers, office workers and yard workers; past present and future.
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