Nov 21 City Council Hearing to Investigate
Veolia’s Breach of Contract
Nov 9 Bus Drivers Rally video
NOV. 9 Solidarity Day with Boston School Bus Drivers
Veolia fired two more union leaders: Recording Secretary Andre Francois and 3 time President Garry Murchison as well as unjustly disciplining 864 other drivers.
On November 1, Steve Gillis and Steve Kirschbaum were fired.
On Saturday, November 9, 2013 the fightback to reinstate the fired bus drivers continued with a rally at the Veolia Corporation’s Boston Headquarters. This video shows the broadening of the movement and the spirited and lively participation of the bus drivers and their supporters. The discriminatory targeting of these particular leaders represents a calculated effort on the part of Veolia and Boston Mayor Menino to break the organizational backbone and infrastructure of the union. Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey has called for a hearing to investigate Veolia’s labor practices and Mayor Menino’s role.
Nov 9 Solidarity Day
Hands Off the School Bus Union 5!
For nearly 40 years, the Boston School Bus Drivers, hard working women and men from our communities , have proudly provided safe, on time, professional service to the students and parents. They are parents and grandparents of students themselves. The overwhelming majority are from Boston’s communities of color, African American, Latin@ and immigrants from Haiti, Cape Verde and Vietnam. This Union worked hard against Company/City racism and to assure that the workforce reflects the diversity of Boston. USW Local 8751 has an exemplary record of fighting and winning some of the best wages, benefits, and dignified working conditions for its members, as well as providing rock solid advocacy.
Equally important is the fact that throughout it’s over 38 year history Local 8751 has stood in solidarity with Labor and Community struggles for Justice throughout the City, the region, the nation and the globe. They have marched, rallied, picketed in support of NYC School bus workers, Verizon telephone workers, postal workers, Teamster dispatchers, Union Painters, Columbian Coke-a-Cola workers, and in virtually every labor struggle of import since the union’s formation. They aided workers to organize into unions from Eastern Bus to Boston taxi drivers and Hotel workers. From day one, the union has fought alongside the community for Equal, Quality Education and against efforts to re-segregate the schools. The bus drivers stood firm in fighting against school closings and cutbacks and for Safety for the Children. The Union busters think they can destroy this union. WE WON’T LET THEM!
On June 18, 2013 Veolia, a global corporate giant known for anti-people, anti-union practices, signed an agreement to honor USW 8751’s contract. Since July 1, they have illegally violated nearly every section and sought to overturn 35 years of collective bargaining progress. There are massive and chronic payroll shortages; overcrowded and untimely routes which sacrifice safe, on time transportation; across the board failure to provide correct benefits; and a general refusal to abide by the terms and conditions of the contract. Nearly 100 individual and class action grievances have been filed. In early September, the Union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. Still this arrogant company refused to honor the contract.
On Oct 8, the drivers reported to work and requested a meeting with Veolia to demand that Veolia honor their contract. This was a protected, unfair labor practice activity. Despite the fact that Veolia’s top brass and the top officers of BPS were in the yards from 4:30 AM on, the company refused. Instead, at 11:00 am Veolia initiated an illegal Lock Out of the drivers, a violation of the contract and federal law. There never was a wild-cat strike on Oct 8, nor any threat of one since. The fear mongering, phony panic forced upon Boston’s parents, orchestrated by the Mayor and BPS, is irresponsible and designed to drive a wedge between the union and the community. They will fail.
On Oct. 9, Veolia suspended Vice President, Pension Administrator and key benefits advocate Steven Gillis and Chair of the Grievance Committee and local founder Stevan Kirschbaum. Within days, they also suspended Recording Secretary and Chief Steward Andre Francois; 3 time former Local President and Steward Garry Murchison; and Steward and Local founding member Richard Lynch. The discriminatory targeting of these particular leaders represents a calculated effort on the part of Veolia and Mayor Menino to break the organizational backbone and infrastructure of the union. On November 1, Gillis and Kirschbaum were fired.
For decades this union has stood with us, Labor and the Community. Now it is time for us to stand with them! An Injury to One is and Injury to all!
All out for Solidarity Day Nov. 9th.
Say NO to Veolia/City Union busting.
Hands off the 5!
Reinstate Gillis and Kirschbaum immediately!
How you can support the Boston School Bus Union 5:
Tell them “Honor the School Bus Drivers Contract! Hand off Local 8751 leaders!”
Send copies to the Committee to Defend the School Bus Union 5 at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Hold a solidarity activity, if possible at a Veolia location near you, or.
Come to the Boston SOLIDARITY DAY Rally outside Veolia’s corporate offices on November 9, 1 PM, Dorchester Ave and Hoyt St., Dorchester, MA
3. Send solidarity letters and resolutions to the Committee to Defend the School Bus Union 5 at email@example.com
4. Send your endorsement of the Committee to Defend the School Bus Union 5 to firstname.lastname@example.org..
5. Donate to the support fund. (account being set up.. Go to bostonschoolbus5.org or find Team Solidarity on facebook at tinyurl.com/d5tntcg for more info)
Press Release – USW Local 8751 Battles Global Union-Buster Veolia
USW Local 8751’s Rank-and-File Migrant Workforce Heroically Battling Global Union-Buster Veolia
Defend a union that epitomizes organized labor’s new inclusive approach to organizing the 99%!
Contact: Garry Merchison (339) 364-0999
Andre Francois (617) 759-9033
In late October, Veolia Transportation flew top executives from Los Angeles, St. Louis and Texas to its offices in Boston. Their purpose? To oversee the firing of five leaders of the Boston school bus drivers’ union.
So far the global conglomerate’s plans to fire the five Boston drivers have been stymied by the drivers’ fierce resistance. At the first disciplinary hearing on October 23, hundreds of school bus drivers – 95% immigrant workers from Haiti and Cape Verde — crowded the entrance to Veolia’s office. Veolia’s management decided not to fire the drivers on that day, and scheduled the next hearing for October 28.
Again, hundreds of the rank-and-file as well as community supporters and Boston trade unionists showed up to occupy Veolia’s parking lot. The executives’ plans were pushed back. No workers were fired.
The next hearing has been set for October 31 at 3:00 PM — at 35 Freeport Way in Dorchester — and Veolia remains hellbent on firing the leadership of the local. The company didn’t fly executives to Boston for nothing.
In a fierce struggle that broke out when Veolia committed an Unfair Labor Practice lockout of 700 school bus drivers, Local 8751 has been waging a heroic fight against the global union-buster.
Leading to the lockout was a series of contract violations, constant shortages in paychecks and an attempt to impose further wage cuts through an insidious GPS-based pay scheme.
Everywhere Veolia gets a contract to manage a city service, it sparks struggles and strikes. It is legendary for running city services into the ground while profiting handsomely. In Indianapolis, the city cancelled its 20-year water contract with Veolia halfway through. Just this week, the city of St. Louis decided not to grant Veolia a water consulting contract.
It’s no accident that the recent BART workers’ strike — in which two workers were killed by a management-operated train — took place against a negotiating team that included Veolia Vice President Thomas P. Hock. The Boston school bus drivers’ struggle is on the front lines of a worldwide fight against the ravages of privatization.
It’s also a fight by a union that exemplarizes the new approach by the AFL-CIO, SEIU and the ILWU to increase collaboration between labor and the community.
Local 8751’s very existence and mission is bound up with the struggle of African-American and other oppressed communities for equal education since the desegregation of Boston’s schools by court-ordered busing in 1974.
The local has continued the fight against repeated attempts to re-segregate Boston schools. For this purpose its leaders recently formed an alliance with unions, parents and groups like the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts and the Coalition for Equal Quality Education.
The union has also been active in the struggle for LGBTQ rights, mobilized against every war since the 1970s, and rallied daily with Occupy Boston and Occupy the Hood during the encampment’s heyday. Their activists led militant marches with Verizon and hotel workers, set up sound trucks for anti-war and labor marches, and participated in teach-ins, community speak- outs and veterans’ demonstrations.
Local 8751 is known for organizing long-distance solidarity trips. The local was a strong presence at last year’s march against Wells Fargo and Bank of America at the March Against Wall Street South in North Carolina, a “right-to-work” state.
This year during the bitter monthlong school bus drivers’ strike in New York, USWA Local 8751 sent a busload of its members to join the picketlines there and protest outside of billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg’s house. Veolia bosses are well acquainted with this fact: they included a video from that solidarity trip in their “evidence” being used to “prove” the case for union leaders’ termination!
Veolia is a huge company with 65,000 employees all over the world. Even though the valiant struggle of the union has pushed it back so far, real solidarity in winning this struggle is critical. Already the union has formed a defense committee utilizing the ties it has built up with local churches, teachers’ organizations and other Boston unions. For it to win it needs the backing of the entire progressive movement.