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School bus drivers vote to join Unifor

September 12, 2017

TORONTO – In the face of increasingly precarious work, made worse by the system used to award school bus contracts in Ontario, 461 drivers in Peel Region have voted to join Unifor.

"These drivers have taken a positive step toward addressing not only the issues in their workplace, but in the industry as a whole," Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi said.

The drivers at Parkview Transit, which serves the Peel public and Catholic school boards in Brampton and Caledon, voted last Friday to join Unifor, Canada’s top school bus union. A meeting will be held within the next month to elect a bargaining committee for the drivers’ first contract.

Rizvi said a recent plea by school bus companies for more money from the provincial government deal with chronic bus shortage across Ontario is a cynical move that won’t address the real issues involved.

“The simple fact is that until moves are made to make school bus driving a more stable form of employment, school boards will continue to see shortages,” Rizvi said.

“Giving more money to school bus companies will not achieve that. Only by negotiating directly with the drivers about the improvements they need will we begin to address problems in the industry – which the drivers at Parkview have recognized.”

Unifor Organizing Director John Aman said wages, being paid for all hours of work, seeking respect from employer and addressing favouritism were the main issues identified by the newly unionized drivers.

“A collective agreement gives school bus drivers a chance to address chronic workplace issues and also provides the opportunity to be part of Unifor’s efforts to address systemic issues in the industry as a whole,” Aman said.

Unifor has been at the forefront of speaking out against the request for proposals system of handing out school bus contract in Ontario, which has led to a race to the bottom on pay and working conditions and was a direct contributor to last year’s massive driver shortage in Toronto.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.