City school bus drivers vote to join Teamsters

June 02, 2006|By LYNN ANDERSON, NICOLE FULLER | LYNN ANDERSON, NICOLE FULLER,SUN REPORTERS

Drivers and attendants at First Student Inc., the Baltimore school system's largest bus contractor, voted yesterday to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which is trying to organize First Student employees nationwide.

The employees, who had complained of poor maintenance and lack of training, voted at two company bus yards, a union official said.

The union has been working with drivers and attendants in recent months to spotlight safety issues at First Student.

They have complained of buses with defective front wheels, leaky roofs and broken speedometers.

Employees were especially upset when the school board voted last month to approve a $5.7 million contract with the company despite their protests.

Tony Bennett, a local manager for First Student, said there were no major incidents related to the vote, although one driver failed to show up for work. He said he was glad the union organizing process was over because it was stressful, but added that he supported the process in general.

"People have the right to express their opinion," Bennett said. "That's one of the most beautiful things we have here in this country."

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