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Maine – Bus Drivers Choose AFSCME

Smooth Running | First Student bus drivers who recently formed a union with Council 93 include (left to right) Helen Perry, the union’s recording secretary; Betty Bowen, secretary treasurer; and member Pat Albison.

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Augusta, Maine

Smooth Running | First Student bus drivers who recently formed a union with Council 93 include (left to right) Helen Perry, the union’s recording secretary; Betty Bowen, secretary treasurer; and member Pat Albison.

Photo Credit: Carol Markland

Fifty school transportation workers here this fall became the latest employees of First Student Inc. to vote for AFSCME Council 93 as their union.

“We want to create the safest environment for the kids we drive,” says First Student driver Helen Perry. “Now, we will have the power to improve standards.”

Organizing First Student workers is part of a national AFSCME campaign that was initiated in August when nearly 400 First Student bus drivers, monitors and mechanics in Indianapolis, Ind., formed a union with Council 62.

First Student operates in 39 states with 58,000 employees. It is a subsidiary of United Kingdom-based FirstGroup PLC. Last October, FirstGroup acquired another subsidiary, Laidlaw International Inc., the largest school and inter-city bus transport provider in North America.

Motivating the drivers in Maine and Indiana to join AFSCME were the inadequate employee benefits and policies of First Student. For example, the firm contributes very little to their employees’ health insurance premiums.

“We deserve fair wages and affordable health care so we can take care of our families,” points out First Student bus driver Larry Brann. “We’re thrilled to join other student transport workers in Maine who have won high standards in the industry with AFSCME.”

AFSCME represents more than 50,000 school transportation workers nationwide.