(see text below form)
Text of Statement:
Stop Veolia/City Union-Busting Against The Boston School Bus Drivers’ Union USW Local 8751
Drop The Frame-Up Charges On Grievance Chair Steve Kirschbaum
Re-Hire The Four Fired Union Leaders And Stop The Racist Austerity Cuts On Boston’s Schoolchildren
The Boston School Bus Drivers Union, United Steel Workers Local 8751, is a 900-strong workforce of mostly Haitian, Cape Verdean and African American women and men. The heartless Veolia Corporation — notorious for its anti-union practices and reviled for its support of Israel’s apartheid settlements in the West Bank — has been hired by the city of Boston to housebreak this fightback-oriented union and impose austerity cuts in public education.
These dedicated, mostly immigrant workers, whose days start before the sun comes up and who safely transport Boston’s most precious cargo to school day in and day out, are fighting for the life of their union and need your solidarity.
As it has done with every union contract from Arizona to Sweden, from day one Veolia has aggressively violated almost every provision of Local 8751’s collective bargaining agreement. In October 2013, Veolia responded to a request by union workers to meet by locking them out, falsely accusing the union of leading a “wildcat strike” and using that as an excuse to fire four of the union’s leaders.
At the heart of this struggle is the war Veolia is waging on the hard-won wages, rights and benefits the union has won over 40 years. The contract is the envy of transportation unions across the country, and the company has declared war on every provision, right down to how payment is decided (Veolia wants a GPS-generated timesheet) as well as seniority rights, sick leave, disability, health insurance and grievance procedures. Veolia has even targeted the “all past rights and practices” section of the contract for outright elimination!
But the union is fighting back. On June 30, the last day of the current collective bargaining agreement, hundreds of union members and supporters participated in a Solidarity Day march and rally, ending with a briefing of the members on contract negotiations in the Drivers’ Room at the Veolia Freeport bus yard. The union contract specifically states all union officials have unlimited access to the property for conducting union business. But Veolia has produced, out of whole cloth, a series of trumped-up felony charges (Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Breaking and Entering to Commit a Felony, and Malicious Destruction of Property) against one of the union’s founders, Steve Kirschbaum, effectively seeking to criminalize union activity. This cannot be allowed to stand! And dozens of witnesses have given sworn statements that the bogus charges against him never happened.
This frameup is just the most recent link in an unbroken chain of vile anti-union attacks against the hard-working women and men of USW 8751 and the communities they serve. Along with the attempt to bust the union, Veolia has been complicit in the racist re-segregation of Boston’s public schools; this dismantling of African American and Latin students access to equal quality education via busing, initially mandated by federal court order, is just one aspect of the $100 million in austerity cuts students are facing.
Local 8751 has a long, proud history of struggle. It was born under a hail of rocks and bottles thrown by racist mobs in the struggle to desegregate Boston’s schools — and has consistently fought for the broader interests of the working class in addition to the wages and benefits of its members. From the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer struggle to the anti-apartheid campaign to the fight to keep Boston post offices open, this union has always walked the talk when it comes to solidarity.
Please join the USW International, Mass AFL-CIO, Greater Boston Labor Council, Coalition for Equal Quality Education, Black Educators Alliance of MA and scores of others in standing against union busting and in Solidarity with Local 8751.
RE-HIRE THE FOUR UNJUSTLY FIRED UNION LEADERS!
DROP THE CHARGES ON STEVE KIRSCHBAUM!
A JUST CONTRACT THAT IMPROVES WORKING CONDITIONS FOR THE WOMEN AND MEN OF LOCAL 8751!
STOP THE RACIST AUSTERITY CUTS ON BOSTON’S PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS!
Fill in the form above to sign on to this statement.