School bus drivers at First Student overwhelmingly vote to support strike action

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OWEN SOUND —School bus drivers at First Student have voted overwhelmingly to support strike action if negotiations with the company fail to produce a new collective agreement.

“This is a job with tremendous responsibility, not a hobby, but companies continue to ask drivers for a full-time commitment for a part-time pay,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “It’s time for these drivers to be treated with the respect that they deserve.”

Collective bargaining between First Student Owen Sound, Kincardine/Port Elgin and school bus industry members of Unifor Local 4268 commenced in April 2022. Unifor represents 110 drivers in Owen Sound and 45 drivers, two mechanic apprentices and one bus monitor in the Kincardine/Port Elgin area. The bargaining units voted 89% and 100% respectively in favour of strike action if a new collective agreement is not reached.

The school bus drivers service the Bluewater and Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board, as well as an employee shuttle service for Bruce Power.

School bus drivers operate large commercial vehicles that can carry with up to 72 children on board and assist students with special needs to attend programs or schools, all on a tight schedule. Many times, school bus drivers have multiple routes or destinations built into their schedule.

"There is a reason that recruitment and retention of school bus drivers continues to be a problem year after year," said Debbie Montgomery, President of Unifor Local 4268. " First Student need to recognize the skill and dedication of their drivers.” 

The current collective agreement expired March 31, 2022.

The parties have agreed to meet in an attempt to overcome an impasse and arrive at an agreement.

Unifor will continue to negotiate with First Student with the goal of reaching a fair contract.

As the leading union for Ontario school bus drivers, Unifor continues to work to raise standards across the sector.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype, Zoom or Facetime interview please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at @email or 416-896-3303 (cell).

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Kathleen O'Keefe

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