East Bay School Bus Drivers Consider Joining Union

HAYWARD (KCBS) – School bus drivers trying to unionize in Livermore and Hayward have questioned the safety record and working conditions on vehicles that transport special needs children.

The buses operated by Durham School Services break down on a regular basis and come up short on other important mechanical safety standards, according to Doug Bloch, political director for Teamsters Joint Council 7.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Some School bus drivers in Alameda County are speaking out about safety and human rights concerns.

“We’ve got issues (including) exposed wiring inside the buses around the children, and we’re even hearing stories of kids being stuck in cabs and sent to school because there’s a bus shortage,” Bloch said.

Durham also does not offer paid sick days, a policy Bloch said forces low-paid drivers to show up when they should not be around vulnerable kids.

The British company is the 2nd largest school bus transportation provider in the United States. It employs some 200 drivers in Alameda County.

In a letter to employees, general manager Fernando Hidalgo dismissed the union’s characterization as “bluster and puffery,” saying the union has no way to prove its claims.

A community meeting, scheduled for Thursday night, is part of a nationwide campaign to unionize school bus drivers. In last few years, more than 35,000 drivers have won union representation, mostly at Durham’s larger competitor, First Student.

Durham drivers in San Jose voted to unionize this past November. The Alameda County vote is scheduled for Feb. 17.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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