On Tuesday, June 16th, employees at Durham School Services, located in Cumberland, Rhode Island, held a socially distanced gathering at Berkeley Oval Field. These hard-working bus drivers, monitors and aides service Cumberland Public Schools, Blackstone Valley Prep and Providence Mayoral Academy.
In September of 2019, they formed their union with UFCW Local 328 to address important issues of concern that affect both safety and service. Today, after months of the company stalling in negotiations, the workers signed and delivered a petition calling on the company to address these concerns immediately. The letter is addressed to the company’s out-of-state lead negotiator, Timothy Ryan.
In the eight months the workers have been negotiating with Durham, the company has chosen not to respond to any of the workers economic proposals and have not offered any of their own. This failure by the company to not negotiate over wages and economic benefits has resulted in pending labor charges against Durham School Services.
Patricia St. Pierre, a bus driver, trainer and employee of Durham since 2012 and serves on the negotiating committee said today, “As far as the company goes, they’re stalling. The bottom line is they’ve been stalling”.
Durham School Services currently offers some of the lowest wages in the state with the top rate for monitors at only $11.22 an hour and bus drivers earning below surrounding bus yards. These low wages result in under-staffing and high turnover that leads to disruptions in service for our communities. Meanwhile, National Express, the parent company of Durham School Services, saw record-breaking revenue in 2019 at $3.45 billion and record-breaking pre-tax profits rise over 5.2% to over $300 million.
After signing the petition, workers walked to the company’s office located at 1 John C Memorial Blvd in Cumberland to deliver it to management. After arriving, management refused to accept the letter. You can read the full letter attached in this post.
We’re asking for the support of our communities. These workers are standing together for a better future not only for their families but for the students and scholars they dedicate themselves to transporting safely as well. With the additional challenges the new school year will bring given the health crisis, Durham needs to step up and act as a better community partner.