On Thursday, July 30th, bus drivers and monitors employed by Durham School Services located in Cumberland, Rhode Island, held a socially-distanced rally for safety and a fair contract. After 10 months, only 8 negotiation sessions (including virtual meetings) and 12 cancellations by their company, these essential school transportation employees sent a message loud and clear to their company: it’s time to do what’s right for your workers and our communities. No more stalling. The company’s refusal to negotiate in the month of July and presently agreeing to only one scheduled meeting in August is unacceptable. Durham School Services needs to respond to this moment in time with a sense of urgency that Rhode Island families deserve.
Patricia St. Pierre, a bus driver and trainer for Durham who serves on the negotiating committee, spoke at the rally saying, “We want to make sure we get them to school safely, that they’re protected and we’re protected, because that’s what it’s all about. We drive the most precious cargo in the world. We need an agreement with this company before school starts at the end of August.”
Vincent Auger, a bus driver who also serves on the negotiating committee echoed that sentiment by saying, “We want a contract. We want some structure that we can work on as far as our wages are concerned, our procedures as far as fairness. We are serious, we want a contract. We don’t want to start school without a contract.”
James N. McLaughlin, State Representative for Cumberland, offered his support for the drivers and monitors. “What I want to tell all of you is you deserve more money. The job that you do, keeping our children safe, making sure they get to and from school every single day, I really appreciate it. The people of Cumberland do. I’m looking and I’m saying that this needs to be settled.”
We would like to thank Representative James N. McLaughlin, Val Lawson for State Senate – District 14 East Providence, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, General Teamsters Local 251, SEIU District 1199 New England and National Education Association RI (NEARI) for attending the rally to show their support yesterday.