Cumberland, RI – On Wednesday, March 24th, the hardworking bus drivers, monitors and aides employed at Durham Bus Services in Cumberland, Rhode Island, voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract. This agreement includes guaranteed raises, new wage scales, additional benefits and improved working conditions for the over 100 employees who service Cumberland Public Schools, Blackstone Valley Prep and Providence Mayoral Academy. The contract is a victory for workers who organized to demand that Durham address low wages which had led to high employee turnover and understaffing.
Patricia St. Pierre, a bus driver and a member of the negotiating committee stated, “I am so proud of our co-workers for standing together. Through our unity, we have secured a better future for all at Durham.” Vincent Auger, a bus driver who also served as a member on the negotiating committee added, “We want to thank the community for all of their support. We love our jobs and we know this agreement will help attract and retain the essential help that families deserve and depend on.”
Starting rates for drivers will go up immediately from $18/hr. to $19.50/hr. and a new starting rate will reach $20.75 by January 1st, 2023. In addition, while the previous scale at the company offered a path to $21 after 10 years, by January 1st, 2023, the new agreement offers drivers a path to $23/hour after three years of employment and includes an additional increase for drivers with 10 years or more of dedicated service.
Previously, bus monitors earned only the minimum wage of $11.50/hr., even for those with many years of experience. The new agreement includes immediate wage increases for monitors of between $1.50 – $2.00/hr. and all monitors will reach $16.75/hr. by January 1st, 2023.
This agreement is also a victory for the communities these workers strive to serve. The relationships the bus drivers, monitors and aides form with parents and children is incredibly important to deliver the safe and reliable service our communities deserve. These improvements will help address the systemic problems of high turnover and understaffing.
Additional benefits under the new agreement include:
- $450 ratification bonus for all workers
- New bonuses for drivers covering extra routes
- An additional day of paid time off and an additional paid holiday
- New workplace protections and grievance procedure
- A new health and safety committee
UFCW Local 328 President Timothy Melia congratulated the Durham workers by saying, “We are thrilled to have these hardworking men and women become members of Local 328. This contract affords the workers there the opportunity for greater economic security for themselves and their families. These workers have been on the front lines during this pandemic and have gone to work every day at great risk to themselves as well as their families. This contract is recognition for their hard work and dedication to the students as well as the community of Cumberland. We congratulate all the workers at the Cumberland bus yard.”
UFCW Local 328 represents over 11,000 workers in a range of industries across Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.