August 27, 2007
SWEET VICTORY / Some of the 400 Indianapolis First Student transportation employees who voted to join Indiana Council 62 are joined by Exec. Dir. David Warrick (center) who is giving a “thumbs up.”
By an incredible 93 percent margin, nearly 400 Indianapolis public school bus drivers, monitors and mechanics have formed a union with AFSCME Council 62.
The workers are employed by First Student Inc., the second-largest school bus operator in North America. They filed a petition in May and won the National Labor Relations Board election.
“We're proud of the work we do and are committed to the families and children in our community,” says bus driver Patricia Hughley. “But we have serious issues that deserve serious attention, and First Student has largely ignored us.”
First Student is a subsidiary of FirstGroup PLC, , based in the United Kingdom. It contributes very little to their employees’ health insurance premiums, pays low wages, and provides no paid sick leave or vacation. The company’s disregard for its employees has led to high turnover.
“We deserve to be rewarded for our skill and experience,” says First Student driver Grigette Yancy. “We need health care we can afford so we can take care of our families and fair wages so we can keep up with the cost of living.” With their new union in place, those goals are now achievable, says Yancy.
“First Student employees have taken an important first step toward creating a better future and having a voice at work,” says Council 62 Exec. Dir. David Warrick, who is also an AFSCME International vice president. “We’re proud to have Indianapolis First Student workers as part of our Council.”