To: All Teamsters Local 179 Members, Especially Drivers and Aides From Minooka School Districts 111 and 201
From: Tom Flynn, President, Teamsters Local 179
Today, August 2, 2016, negotiations between Local 179 and Minooka School Districts 111 and 201 officially broke down. The districts were quick to email all of the parents in the districts to try to place the blame on the "greedy" Teamsters. Normally I leave the details of negotiations at the table, but since the district decided to stoop to a level I have never before seen and try to "win" public opinion through social media, I feel I must respond.
In late 2015, Local 179 gained the right to represent the drivers and aides through a petition filed with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. After being certified by the Labor Board, the district would not meet with us for two months citing, "We are putting our committee together." It wasn't until we threatened the district with labor board charges that they agreed to meet. From February through May both sides met between six and eight times, but always for only two hours at a time because the attorney for the district is "a very busy man" and two hours was all the time he could spare for us.
Let me take a moment to explain a few things. When Local 179 gets recognition from the Labor Board, we notify the company (or in this case, the district), immediately and meet within 30 days of recognition. When we meet, we meet all day, anywhere from six to ten hours at a time to exchange proposals and ideas and bargain hard for our members. Normally we can negotiate an agreement within a few months. By May, when we had only agreed on a few small things, Local 179 requested mediation. We have met with the mediator three times and have agreed on one issue. Until today, we have not discussed economics at the bargaining table. All of this time we have been discussing non-economic issues.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), represents approximately 50,000 school bus drivers and aides across the country and Local 179 represents approximately 1,000 drivers and aides in the school bus, public transportation, and paratransit industry. The issues we have been demanding are standard school bus language that is in all of our school bus contracts. Let's look at a few examples: progressive discipline and discharge, seniority, leave of absence, child ride along, the right of a driver to refuse to take an unsafe bus on the road, bidding, protecting our work, definition of work, and charter rotation just to name a few. The district rejected them all.
The drivers and aides transport the most precious cargo of all, our children. From home to school and from school to home is the most vulnerable time for our children and you are in charge of them. It is your job to protect them and it is the job of Local 179 to protect you. Don't believe the half-truths the district is telling you. We have mailed all of the Minooka School Districts 111 and 201 drivers and aides a meeting notice flier. I urge you to attend.