Stalled Negotiations for First Teamster Contract Triggers Overwhelming Strike Vote
SEATTLE, May 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly 150 Zūm drivers and technicians represented by Teamsters Local 174 that provide school bus service for the Seattle School District (SSD) now sit at the precipice of a work stoppage after workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.
“As these negotiations have dragged on, it has become clear that Zūm made an unrealistically low bid to the Seattle School District to take this work, and they want to pass responsibility for that decision onto their workers rather than themselves,” said Rick Hicks, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer. “These hardworking bus drivers refuse to accept less than they deserve just to help protect Zūm’s bottom line, especially when Zūm executives were the ones who made the poor business decision to underbid this contract. They can either live with that decision, or they can face a strike by their workforce.”
The vote was held on Sunday morning. Teamster rank-and-file bargaining committee members and the contract negotiation team have expressed frustration with the glacial pace of contract negotiations. This has been even more infuriating given that the contract with the other school bus provider for the district, First Student, already set a clear standard for school bus drivers and mechanics in Seattle. Zūm has also steadfastly refused to agree to basic language allowing workers to honor a picket line that is standard in nearly all Teamsters Local 174 contracts. Frustration over all these issues was shared by the workers in attendance, who ultimately voted by a margin of 95 percent in favor of a strike.
School bus service for SSD had previously been exclusively provided by First Student until the end of the 2022 school year, when SSD chose to award roughly half the work to California-based Zūm. Zūm’s group of newly hired employees quickly organized with Local 174, which already represented workers at First Student, and negotiations for a first contract have been ongoing. Progress has been slow, and with the end of the school year rapidly approaching, workers used this strike vote to make clear to Zūm that they were tired of working without a contract.
Jamie Fleming, (425) 281-0166
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SOURCE Teamsters Local 174