United Anti War Coalition conference in Jersey 2015
Solidarity Works: Boston School Bus Drivers Union Victory Over Veolia
After more than two years of hard-fought struggle, last year the militant, fighting rank and file of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union — United Steelworkers Local 8751 — won a historic victory against global giant Veolia/Transdev, one of the most notorious capitalist union busters, as well as Boston Public School bosses, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and their media mouthpieces.
Four fired union leaders, out of work since October 2013 on bogus charges of leading a wildcat strike, went back to work on Dec. 23, 2015. In addition to reinstatement of the four with full seniority rights and a substantial monetary payment, the local won a contract with economic justice and the protection of 40 years of the collective bargaining process.
Solidarity is key to the Boston school bus drivers success. “Team Solidarity” has been building power among the working class through a 40+ year commitment to racial justice, disability justice, LGBT*Q rights, local struggle and anti-colonial/anti-imperial struggle.
These drivers are truly an inspiration and have so much knowledge and experience to share with us about solidarity and building power among the working class to push corporate power back.
Veolia has been in the business of union busting for centuries. How did the Boston school bus drivers prevail?
A commitment to racial justice: USW 8751 is a rank and file union with a 42+ year history of organizing against racism in Boston, the US and throughout the world, with roots in the antiracist struggles of the 1970s and the desegregation of Boston schools in 1974, the union continues to stand strong against police terror and murder. We are also proud supporters of Freedom for Mumia Abu Jamal for over 25 years. Today the union is 98% people of color, mostly Haitian and Cape Verdean immigrants and African American, Latin@ and Asian. Members including President Andre Francois are active in the Black Lives Matter movement and the Haitian liberation party Fanmi Lavalas of Boston.
A commitment to disability justice: The union since its formation has worked in alliance with disabled folks under the leadership of the Disabled People’s Liberation Front. The union has worked with disabled activists to serve the disabled student population in Boston and in the broader disability rights movement marching for full accessibility and to defend gains they’ve been a part of winning, incl. full-service on the MBTA, and other state programs. USW 8751 has been a part of the campaign against so-called “sheltered workshops”, which exploit the labor of disabled people.
A commitment to LGBT*Q rights: The very first contract of USW 8751 in 1977 had domestic partner benefits before this was widely recognized. The contract extended medical insurance, life insurance and all other benefits to partners of drivers in a “marital-like relationship”. In 1974 some of the founders of the union housed Leslie Feinberg (author of the cult classic trans* coming of age novel Stone Butch Blues) — they ran in the streets together standing up to racists and learned about being in solidarity with LGBT*Q folx and LGBT*Q struggles. This past year USW 8751 invited national trans* justice organizers to write the language around trans* inclusion and LGBT*Q rights which now appears in the new contract.
A commitment to local struggle: USW 8751 consistently stands and puts bodies on the line with those who are struggling in the local community — with other workers, students, parents, teachers, indigenous communities, communities being gentrified, disabled folks, LGBT*Q, immigrants, all who are oppressed. Together Team Solidarity and the community have so many impressive wins. The union local was a key part of the Coalition to Save Grove Hall Post Office, supporting all four postal worker unions in a successful fight that saved the post office in the heart of Boston’s African-American community.
A commitment to anti-colonial, anti-imperial struggle: USW 8751 sent money to support the ANC in South Africa fighting apartheid. The union consistently stands in solidarity with our Palestinian trade union brothers and sisters, marching in the streets to stop Israeli assaults, free political prisoners, and put an end to apartheid and colonization. The school bus drivers have extended their solidarity to workers all over the world, most recently to Colombian unionists facing paramilitary terror. Even in the midst of its own struggle, Local 8751 participated in the United National Antiwar Coalition’s “Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad” conference in May, which drew more than 400 delegates from the U.S. and Canada.
Join the movement to fight corporate power and imperialism!
Join us in welcoming the Boston School Bus Drivers Union delegation to Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Seattle this July 2016!