By Bonnie Morr
Alternate Vice President-Bus

The UTU, other labor unions and the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO are jointly tackling workplace training, discipline and other workplace safety and economic issues on behalf of school bus drivers.

Nationwide, school bus drivers face daily challenges in their work, with their employers and with school bus districts.

Not to brag, but the UTU supplied the most comprehensive list of issues that impact school bus drivers. Those issues reveal a need for more specialized training, better strategies for preventing students from opening emergency exits while the bus is in motion, installation of electronic alerts as to when students unfasten their seatbelts, assigning monitors aboard buses, and implementation of a more realistic agility test requirement for drivers.

The UTU also has taken the lead in pushing for improved job security for school bus drivers. Too often, drivers are furloughed because of subcontracting, and disqualified from service without just cause.

Legislatively, the UTU is lobbying for increased and more reliable public funding for school bus operations, limitations on the ability of schools to subcontract driving responsibilities, and to correct legislation that puts a CDL at risk for driver infractions when operating their personal vehicles. The UTU also is fighting limitations on benefits for part-time drivers.

All these issues were discussed in a recent joint conference call hosted by TTD. Besides myself, UTU officers participating in the call included Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch and New Jersey State Legislative Director Dan O’Connell. A result was creation of a comprehensive list of legislative objectives that will be pursued jointly by the UTU, the AFL-CIO and other TTD-member unions.