Published 24 Oct, 2011
Workers at Lakeland Area Mass Transit District (Citrus Connection) in Lakeland, Fla. and Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 in Pennsylvania will no longer be at will employees following their vote to join TWU locals 525 and 282 respectively.
Colonial Intermediate Unit 20
The employees for Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 came out victorious on Oct. 19 after a 50-21 vote for a union.
The campaign win came after workers approached TWU because of the lack of benefits they had, such as no sick days and no holidays. The workers also faced numerous changes made by management, such as increasing work hours from 25 to 30 hours to receive benefits, which many are not meeting because of the route changes and unfair treatment from management.
“If you kick a dog long enough, he shows his teeth,” said Matt Dees, a driver for the past 6 years who also credits his other co-workers for the successful campaign.
The drivers also lost pay after attending a breakfast meeting with a dispatcher and found out once they received their paychecks. However, the workers were able to receive their pay back after filing a complaint with the labor board.
“We have been treated so unfairly,” said Marlow Wacik, a bus driver for 33 years and who was part of the in house organizing committee. “ A union will have us all treated equally.”
Now, the workers are on their way to securing a legal and binding contract.
Bus operators, monitors, facility maintenance, mechanics and janitors for Colonial Intermediate Unit 20, which provide 13 school districts with services and programs for children, were the only employees that did not have a contract and will now have the same rights as the others.
The success for the workers at Citrus Connection came after several long months of battling intimidation from a union busting firm hired by management and the hand picking of 15 workers to lay off, workers who supported unionizing.
“We got our hearts back,” said Eva Mershan, a bus driver for 22 years for Citrus Connection. “I like being a bus driver. I didn’t like the fear that I couldn’t speak.”
The workers approached Kevin Smith, President of Local 525, because of the lack of respect shown to them by management and the lack of raises. The pay for some of them is only entry level.
Union representation for the bus operators, parts clerks, mechanics, facility mechanics and bus fuelers will now help secure a collective bargaining agreement.
The success for all the campaigns was hard fought and achieved by the efforts of strong in-house organizing committees of workers from each company.