On Tuesday, November 24th the Wethersfield School Bus Drivers voted overwhelmingly to unionize with CSEA SEIU local 2001. They join over a dozen other workplaces who employ school bus drivers and monitors in Connecticut. According to long time school bus driver Christopher Justiniano, “We all have a lot of safety concerns regarding COVID-19, not just for ourselves, but the children we transport.
Unfortunately [the bosses] did not have any good answers for us”. He went on to say, that with a union in place, “we will fight for the safety of our fellow drivers and make sure we all go home to our families”.
Safety was just one of the reasons the van and bus drivers organized. They were also looking for respect in the workplace, annual raises and a 401k plan. Bus driver, Theresa Garcet-Madera said, “we are fighting for equality for all, before the union – we weren’t being treated fairly. We want security and benefits for those that need it”.
A few of the bus drivers have worked in unionized bus yards in the past and made clear a startling difference. Vanessa Mayuri, a former union steward in the West Hartford school bus yard made the comparison to “night and day” between union and non-union workplaces. She stated, “[This company] doesn’t show us any appreciation even though we have dedicated our lives to this work.
We continue to work hard and keep children safe everyday… even during a global pandemic”.
The local NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) ran the election by secret mail-in ballot and counted the ballots through a remote meeting. The thirty one school bus drivers from Wethersfield will join with over 1,400 drivers and monitors all over the state who have already made the choice to organize and fight for a better way of life.