Labor Headlines- Monday, July 29
Martha’s Vineyard,a small island off CapeCod, Massachusetts and home to some of the wealthiest people in the country, witnessed the power of workers when the public transportation drivers, members of ATU #1548, Amalgamated Transit Union, walked off the job June 28 after months of negotiations had failed.
A popular vacation spot, the full-time population is about 16,000 but swells to many times more during the summer months.
The cost of living on the island according to a Martha’s Vineyard Commission report is 60% higher than the national average and housing prices are 96% higher yet the average weekly wage is only 71% of the state average.
The private management company, Transit Connection Inc had played hard ball for five years, refusing to negotiate a contract, figuring the small local of 26 workers would not be able to sustain a long strike.
Four weeks of rallies including one at the state capitol in Boston, daily picket lines, confrontational meetings with company and elected officials and solidarity from other unions and island residents resulted in a victory this past weekend.
The membership ratified a three year contract, their first since voting for a union, with significant annual pay raises, double time for holiday ours, union protections during layoffs and seniority rights in route placement are among the gains.
On Aug. 1, wages for drivers will go up from $23.50 an hour to $25.50 and top put at $27.50 in 2021. New hire wages will increase from $16.50 to $19.50 this Thursday and top out at $20.50 in the last year of the contract.
Cabs had been hired to operate the buses during the strike with some service cut or reduced. The steadfastness of the drivers for four weeks was supplemented by the strong attendance of strikers, town officials and union supporters from the community who attended the two-day negotiating meeting that ended in a contract.
Congratulations to these union-strong ATU members, bus drivers who serve the public on Martha’s Vineyard.
Quality public education for all children is one of the most important issues to workers and their families not just in Atlanta but across the country. For several years now, public tax dollars have become a cash cow for private companies, promising rapid transformations in test scores and student overall achievement. This option is promoted by the Atlanta Schools Superintendent and Board of Education president, in particular. And nationally by Secretary of Education, millionaire Betsy Devos.
The Atlanta federation of teachers is calling for a solidarity rally on Thursday, Aug. 1 in front of the Atlanta Public School Building, 130 trinity Ave, downtown from 3-6pm. Decisions being made by the elected Board are directing money away from public schools into the pockets of private corporations that are hired to manage charter schools. Studies show that despite the claims made about charters innovation and higher quality, for the most part, their test scores do not exceed those of public school students. Yet millions of dollarsare being siphoned away to pay these business management teams instead of upgrading the facilities and staff services of the schools most Atlanta students attend.
The AFT encourages all those concerned about quality education for all to attend the rally and school board meeting Thursday, Aug. 1 at 130 Trinity Ave.