Don't Let Georgia Tech Bust Teamster Bus Drivers

Forty bus drivers at Georgia Tech received an early gift for the holidays on December 18 when they learned they would no longer have jobs after the New Year. Ho-ho-ho.

The drivers became the first Georgia Tech workers to belong to a union when they voted to join Teamsters Local 728 in March 2008.

The trouble began when Georgia Tech decided to hire a different contractor to run its transportation services. The school chose Groome Transportation, a notorious bottom-feeder operation.

The previous company, First Transit, had signed a nationwide neutrality agreement after pressure from the Teamsters International, including a visit by rank and filers to a shareholders meeting in Britain. Local 728 subsequently won all seven of its bids to organize school and transit bus drivers at First Transit in Georgia, including the Georgia Tech election.

When the Teamster drivers applied to Groome, the company refused even to interview them and later snubbed union reps requesting meetings to talk about the situation.

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Ben Speight, organizing director of Local 728, said this is a break with past practice on successor contracts. Some drivers have seen multiple contractors come and go and were always rehired by the new company. The only difference now is their union contract, which guarantees raises, six paid holidays, and the right to refuse to operate unsafe buses.

Union busting is Groome’s only possible motivation for not rehiring the Teamster drivers. They know the routes and the campus community, argues United Students Against Sweatshops, which supports the campaign. They should retain their positions.

Speight said Local 728 is pressuring Georgia Tech, which holds the purse strings. Students will be their main ally, having already shown significant support for the workers. Even the local media has been positive, showing up at a rally held Monday and attended by students, workers, and community members.

You can help too. Call G. P. Peterson, president of Georgia Tech, at 404-894-5051, and tell him to make Groome rehire the Teamster drivers and recognize their union and contract.