Who Benefits From Union Membership?
If you look at our shops "Seniority List" for those employees who have worked one year or less, you'll see that 35% of our employees fall into this category. Those employees that hire on after the union ratifies it's first contract with First Student have to pay a $250.00 initiation fee which means an additional $8,750.00 for the union per year.
For dues and initiation fees paid by the employees alone, this means the union receives $44,750.00 a year.
Most union contracts also require the employer to pay an additional fee for each hour an employee works to help subsidize the unions retirement and other benefits which can easily add another $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 and more to their coffers!
The union says they want to come in and make sure your rights are protected, but at what cost? Just like the preacher that says "Give your money to the Lord, and send it to my address", you should look long and hard at how it will benefit you and your family in the end!
While we would all like to retire with a large paycheck, look what the unreasonable demands placed on auto makers, steel foundries, shipbuilders, and the garment industry has done to "United States Based Jobs". Cars are built in Japan, steel is forged and ships are built in Korea, clothing & tennis shoes are sewn in China.
And in this economy of shrinking School Budgets, union contracts can and do prevent the employer from presenting successful bids on school transportation to the School District it is bidding to. In that event, another company (Mid-Columbia Bus & Durham Bus to name a couple) can underbid First Student, and if you are lucky enough to be hired by the new contractor, all your seniority goes away and you start at square one all over again!
If something in your life can't meet the requirements of "School Bus Driver" unlike many other occupations which might be able to accommodate your handicap or legal problem, the same is not the case in School Pupil Transportation!
If you can't pass your "Driver Physical" fail a random or reasonable suspicion drug/alcohol test, get arrested for various charges, touch a child on the bus improperly to name a few. Guess What? There isn't a darn thing the union can do for you to allow you to keep your job, and if you or they think there is; well now I've got this ocean front property...........
If you are young, (not doing this job like most of us for something to do in the daytime) plan to stay working full time in the part time job as School Bus Driver into the deep future, and don't plan to move out of Grants Pass, you may "In Time" benefit from union affiliation. This is assuming of course they "Hang Around" for the long haul; though history of the Teamsters in this branch doesn't bear out that scenario.
The current "Seniority List" indicates that 65% of our current employees have been here less than three (3) years. If you yourself have been here less than three (3) years, that translates into a 65% chance the union will be of no use to you!
If you are looking at the union as a way to retire, keep in mind that in the 1940's union membership in the United States was above 30% it is currently less than 6%, which also means that either the 6% are carrying the 30% or the union has already tapped into their rainy day fund. What will be left of what you paid into the system when you are ready to retire???
Even if you don't believe the cynicism of the paragraph directly above this one, before you decide to once again vote "Yes" to allow the Teamsters to represent you, I would strongly suggest that you go to the union office and ask how their retirement works, how long and how many hours a week do you have to work to "vest" (become or just be, eligible for retirement).
I've been in unions most of my adult life including the Ironworkers, Boilermakers, Sheet Metal Workers, Laborers, and Wine Distillers Unions. While I got great pay when I worked, (sometimes great benefits) and the companies I worked for paid thousands of dollars into the unions retirement fund on my behalf, I never "Vested" in any union to claim even a dime of what I earned.
And why is that you say??? Very good question!! During the years of big economic growth, (lots of construction jobs) the unions I worked in required "union membership" rather than "work cards". If you work on a "work card" you pay the equal amount of money "union members" pay to the union, but you don't become an actual "union member". The use of "work cards" protect those in the union who have taken the time to go through an apprenticeship program, earning their right to work and pretty much keeping them working in "off years"
By forcing everyone to join the union in order to work, the union gained $500.00 initiation fees for each extra man hired during the boom seasons, but guess what? Seniority dictates that low man on the totem pole gets laid off first in slow years! You wouldn't think that would be a bad thing, but first man laid off, is first man to be eligible for job openings at other companies. If you had been working on a "work card" while you may get the first job at another company, when the "union members with seniority" got laid off later in the season, they would have the right to bump the non union worker. As everyone was now a "union worker" that protection was lost.
Still think it's no big deal? I worked for a company that employed 3,000 Boilermakers. When they shut down full production in 1981, 2,700 Boilermakers were laid off and sent to the union hiring boards. It was impossible to get sent out on a job as I was one of the last to get laid off, and I had 2,700 in front of me looking for work, hence the change of unions, and loss of vesting.
For those of you that think "Seniority" rather than education, experience, and ability is the only thing that should be considered in job retention, I think you should seriously consider a job change from School Bus Driver to something else for yourself! Why are you transporting kids to school if their education means nothing to you?
Sincerely, Alan Miller
Copyright 2010 - 2011 Alan Miller & a
Coalition of Grants Pass First Student Bus Drivers & Monitors opposing representation by
Teamsters Union Local #962
Use by other First Student Branches wishing to block representation by the Teamsters Union is encouraged and will be granted upon written request.