Pennsylvania school buses drivers voted to withdraw from the union during a secret ballot election. The vote is predicted to strike a deep fiscal blow to the Amalgamated Transit Union(ATU) Local 1729. The ATU is a member of the AFL-CIO — one of the largest labor unions in the country. Approximately 105 school bus drivers in the Gateway School District had been paying dues to the union.
The transportation union has reportedly been steadily losing members for the past several years. In 2009, the ATU had 240 dues-paying members. Union officials had reportedly been hopeful that the school bus drivers at the Gateway School District would help reverse the membership trend. The massive Pennsylvania school district is located in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville.
In 2013, the Gateway School District switched contract transportation providers for school bus service. The provider which won the contract, Student Transportation of America, reportedly hires the majority of its employees from a union contractor that recognized the Amalgamated Transit Union as the sole bargaining agent for bus drivers.
Although the transportation union had enjoyed support from the Student Transportation of America company, the warm and fuzzy feelings apparently did not extent to the drivers. The Pennsylvania school bus drivers had petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to hold a secret ballot election for the purpose of getting rid of the union a total of four times in recent months. The National Labor Relations Board is a federal arbiter which oversees unionization issues.
The petition requesting the vote to oust the union was signed by all but three of the eligible employees, according to the National Right to Work Foundation. The group represented the Gateway School District bus drivers in the union dispute.
Almost 90 percent of the Pennsylvania school bus drivers ultimately voted to leave the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1729 when the secret ballot was finally held. According to the Washington Free Beacon, the ATU “repeatedly stymied” the push by the school bus drivers to get a secret ballot election scheduled. Transportation union leaders reportedly did not think such a vote should be held until the labor group “had time to close a deal.”
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said it was “easy to see why Transit Union bosses repeatedly blocked these bus drivers’ requests for a secret ballot election.” Last year, the ATU reportedly collected about $550 per member in dues, amounting to approximately $70,000. A total of $30,000 was reportedly spent on union salaries.
In an attempt to coax the Pennsylvania school bus drivers to remain in the union, the ATU promised to wave dues payments for the disgruntled Gateway School District bus drivers until a new contract was secured.
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