Nine out of 10 bus drivers for First Student who are also members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ratified a four-year, nationwide labor agreement this month that is being lauded as an industry first.
A spokesperson for First Student said the master agreement on June 1 signifies “a new era in labor relations and a commitment to ongoing collaboration” between the two organizations. The agreement is believed to be the first time that a labor union and a private school bus contractor have signed a collective agreement that incorporates the principles of freedom of association, or the right to collectively bargain, and international human rights into the language.
“This groundbreaking contract represents a positive step forward for Teamsters at First Student and all workers in the school bus industry,” said Rick Middleton, co-chair of the Teamsters First Student Negotiating Committee and a Teamsters vice president. “The gains made in this agreement will immediately benefit First Student Teamsters and their families and ensure a cooperative working relationship with the company for years to come.”
The four-year national agreement affects more than 20,000 school bus drivers and aims to improve their workplace protections, create a national grievance procedure and provide strong language to raise standards for Teamster members at First Student. The Teamsters said in an announcement that 91 percent of the 30,000 First Student drivers represented by the labor union approved the contract.
The First Student spokesperson said exact economic figures were continuing to be negotiated on a contract-by-contract basis. She added that the contract assures school district customers will receive uninterrupted service national dispute resolution while continuing to receive “the highest level of safety and quality standards.”
“First Student will continue to lead the industry in best-in-class safety initiatives, such as background checks, on-board technology and maintenance standards,” she continued.
The national bargaining committee was formed in May and consisted of representatives from California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Montana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.