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Evil Transdev

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Evil Transdev

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:57 pm

http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/08 ... evil-corp/

As the Boston School Bus Drivers, Steelworkers Local 8751, move into a crucial stretch of their struggle to rehire their four fired leaders, and for a just contract and safety for Boston’s school children, Workers World newspaper here examines their primary opponent, Transdev Services Inc., formerly Veolia Transportation Services.
Andre Francois and Stevan Kirschbaum

Andre Francois and Stevan Kirschbaum

This notorious corporation has earned the wrath of progressives throughout the world, from those seeking justice for Palestine, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, to environmentalists, anti-privatization activists, and fighters for labor and the rights of disabled people.

While the Boston Public Schools management and Mayor Marty Walsh should have ultimate control of their contractor, Transdev/Veolia, this evil corporation’s actions in its two-year battle with the school bus drivers raise questions about whether this is a case of “the tail wagging the dog.”

To investigate more about Veolia’s tactics, WW reached out to others across the country who have had run-ins with Transdev/Veolia.

First, this WW reporter talked to Chris Finn, president of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1555, comprised of Bay Area Rapid Transit workers. BART workers were forced into a strike in 2013. (See “Two workers die as BART management operates trains during strike in California” at workers.org)

Workers World: “Why did BART management engage Thomas Hock of Veolia on their negotiating team during negotiations for the BART contract?”

Chris Finn: “BART has a notorious history of labor relations. Despite a concessionary contract in 2009 following the start of the Great Recession, and both managers and members of the Board of Directors acknowledging they would need to reward the workers in 2013 for their role in helping the agency’s financial state, BART hired Tom Hock in October 2012, writing that they determined well before negotiations began that they would need to engage in “traditional” bargaining practices, which is the adversarial form, compared with what is known as Interest Based Bargaining.

“An independent consultant hired by the BART Board of Directors to look into what went wrong with the 2013 negotiations stated in the 225-page public report that Hock was one of the main problems and that he knew and informed management early on that the position they took would cause a strike. ATU had representatives from around the country come to the Bay Area to discuss the role of Tom Hock in causing public transit strikes when he was at the table.

“The strikes were unfair labor practice strikes, based on a growing number of ULPs. Hock’s strategy was to force a strike and try to outlast the union. There were no attempts to bargain and reach resolution.”

WW: “What role did Hock play during the negotiations?”

CF: “He was the chief negotiator for BART. He wasn’t initially hired for that role. He was hired supposedly as a consultant to assist, but they ended up moving their own head of Labor Relations to the side and upping Hock’s contract to take over as chief negotiator. Even when he was sent back to Cincinnati, he attempted to prevent BART from negotiating an agreement with the unions and ending the strike.”

WW: “What was the outcome of your struggle?”

CF: “BART ended up receiving a lot of bad press and being seen as having lots of problems. They received a 225-page report outlining the main problems with BART negotiations. We ended up with a 4-year contract. Hock was gone by then. He was sent away before negotiations were concluded. We had three federal mediators there and had the framework for a deal while Hock was out of town for a few days. When he came back, he piled on a few concessions that were guaranteed to cause a strike, which was what precipitated the second strike when the two fatalities occurred. He left at the beginning of the second strike to go to Cincinnati and BART finished it without him, though he was still attempting to prevent them from settling.

“We also had a bunch of ‘last best final offers’ — at least six, maybe more, all trying to provoke a strike, loaded with major concessions.”

Stop Veolia Seattle
Gary Murchison and Susan KoppelmanWW photo: Hannah Kirschbaum

Gary Murchison and Susan Koppelman
WW photo: Hannah Kirschbaum

Workers World also reached out to Susan Koppelman of “Stop Veolia Seattle,” where Veolia has had the contract for MetroAccess Paratransit service for disabled and elderly people since 2008. At that time, 140 drivers represented by ATU Local 587 either lost their jobs or were forced to take pay cuts.

The initial low-bid contract represented an annual $1 million cost savings to the county, but after the first year costs went up. For the last four years, the county has paid at least $7 million more per year. (See Koppelman’s article, “Pressure mounts on executive Constantine to take action on Veolia,” in the March 26 South Seattle Emerald.)

WW: “How has Veolia/Transdev earned the wrath of so many people worldwide?”

Susan Koppelman: “Veolia and its subsidiaries and spinoff companies like Transdev — which is 50 percent owned by Veolia and 50 percent owned by a French financial institution — have a horrendous track record of violations to human rights, labor rights and the environment globally.

“Dating back to an imperial decree of Napoleon III, some of the first contracts this company held were providing public services to the French colonies, so there’s a direct line between the founding of the company and Veolia’s role in occupation, colonization and imperialism today.

“Veolia is the largest privatizer of public water services in the world. Repeatedly Veolia has been found guilty of overcharging residents for water, while criminally underinvesting in water infrastructure, jeopardizing public health and safety.

“In 2010, Paris ended its contract with French multinational Veolia and was able to lower the cost of water to consumers while also increasing investment in the public water infrastructure, proving that alternatives to privatization are not only viable but are greatly preferential.

“However, in the same year that Paris was successful in escaping Veolia’s corporate stranglehold over their public water supply, the residents of Tucumán province in Argentina found their sovereignty and control over their public water supply undermined by the World Bank’s defense of Veolia, which then went by the name of Vivendi.

“In 1996, consumer groups in Tucumán took action to halt Vivendi’s escalation of the cost of water to residents in the poor province. But the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes ultimately ruled that the company had ‘a right to make a profit’ and awarded the company $105 million in damages, an amount nearly equal to 10 percent of the public debt of Tucumán province.

“Trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership will only tip the scales further in favor of massively powerful corporations. It is imperative that we continue to take on corporate giants like Veolia and work for trade agreements that protect the rights of residents and the environment and maintain water as a public trust that cannot be sold to the highest bidder in the hopes of achieving racial and economic justice.

“We must not allow corporations like Veolia to come in and profiteer from natural disasters or ongoing military occupation, like they have following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and in Palestine.”

WW: “How did you come to learn about the Boston school bus drivers’ struggle against Veolia?”

SK: [It was] “after I was already active in campaigns against Veolia for a number of years. I had the honor of meeting some of these incredibly strong and courageous drivers in the neighborhood where my grandmother grew up and where my father was born. I’m inspired by their epic stand for justice against these corporate bullies, and pray that the fired workers will have their jobs reinstated immediately.”

Oppose Veolia from Boston to Palestine

Dalit Baum, American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East Peace education director and co-founder of “Who Profits from the Occupation,” a research center, gave additional input. She explained how the BDS movement supporting Palestine had successfully forced Veolia to sell off most of its companies supplying water and transportation services for illegal settlements in Occupied Palestine.

However, the company still owns interests in Jerusalem’s light-rail service, which provides exclusive Israeli-only transportation to the illegal West Bank settlements.

Whoprofits.org reported in September 2013, “Veolia is still involved in the occupation; in transferring waste to Tovlan landfill in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territories] through a subsidiary and in the light train through its shares in CityPass and Connex Jerusalem.” It further states that Veolia Environnement, through its subsidiary Transdev, still holds a 5-percent share in the CityPass Consortium, and Transdev fully owns Connex Jerusalem, which operates the trains.

The USW Local 8751 bus drivers, with a mostly Haitian and Cape Verdean workforce, regularly show solidarity with other workers. This militant local supports the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the struggles for rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and for people with disabilities. Importantly, these workers stand with the Palestinian people and oppose Veolia’s role on their occupied lands.

It is time now for everyone to stand with this fighting union local in its final push for justice for its members and the schoolchildren of Boston.

For more information, see Facebook Team Solidarity at tinyurl.com/pwk3ptb, bostonschoolbus5.org/ and workers.org.
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Re: Evil Transdev

Postby Fleet Lists » Fri Nov 13, 2015 3:38 pm

Boston School Bus Drivers Fight Firings and Telematics -
http://labornotes.org/blogs/2015/11/bos ... telematics
November 12, 2015 / Gerry Scoppettuolo

Boston school bus drivers are in the fight of their lives—up against Mayor Marty Walsh, the Boston Public Schools, and the global conglomerate Transdev.

As soon as Transdev (formerly Veolia Transportation) took over Boston’s school buses two years ago, it started violating hard-won provisions of the union contract, even trying to force all the drivers to reapply for their jobs. Soon it fired four union officers, claiming they had led an illegal wildcat strike.

“It is obvious to us that this evil company was hired to do one thing: break our union completely,” said Steelworkers Local 8751 President Andre Francois.

Now drivers are gearing up for a new round of negotiations, where they’re determined to deal with the backlog of 700 unresolved grievances—over such issues as pay shortages and unjust suspensions—and to win back their officers’ jobs.

The contract between Transdev and the union expired in 2014. Local 8751 has printed up T-shirts with the slogan, “Will Strike If Provoked.”

Over the past two years the union has filed numerous unfair labor practice charges accusing the company of unlawful firings and of refusing to bargain in good faith. Over and over, members have rallied in the bus yards, calling for the district to rehire their leaders.

In fact, the fired leaders’ slate, Team Solidarity, swept the union elections this spring, winning all 18 executive board seats. The slate won the top offices—president, vice president, financial secretary, and grievance chair—by more than 3 to 1.

Under the city’s vendor agreement, Mayor Walsh has the power to order a grievance settlement, and he could order Transdev to rehire the four leaders. But he has yet to do so. Apparently the corporation is calling the shots.

This local has faced some serious anti-union companies in the past, but nothing like Transdev. According to Financial Secretary Steve Gillis, “union-busting and austerity, not quality transportation services, is the company’s only real product.”
A FIGHTING LOCAL

Local 8751 is no ordinary union. Drivers first began organizing in 1974—the same year a federal judge ordered busing as a remedy for school segregation.

Desegregation created a need for more bus drivers. This was when a number of the union’s early organizers were hired, including some of the district’s first female and African American drivers.

The union won its first contract in 1978. Ever since, it’s been fighting to keep the schools from being re-segregated. Through those fights it has built a solid relationship with local community groups.

Of the union’s 900 members, 98 percent are Haitian, African American, Latino, or Cape Verdean. Drivers are often seen on picket lines not only for other unions, but also in support of Black Lives Matter, the antiwar movement, and the Palestinian struggle.

Local 8751’s sound truck has rolled in the city’s Pride Parade for decades, and its first president, Tess Ewing, was a founding member of Pride at Work, the AFL-CIO constituency group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LBGTQ) unionists.
SHORT PAYCHECKS AND TELEMATICS

The company now known as Transdev took over the management of Boston’s school buses from First Student, a Scotland-based transnational, in 2013.

The drivers were then under a 2011-14 agreement which for the first time allowed members to retire with dignity—assured medical benefits and a unique severance payment. The contract had also required First Student to hire 40 new workers, raise wages, and improve benefits.

But under Transdev’s management, some contract provisions have been ignored. Workers complain their paychecks are short every week, owing to the company’s method of computing pay. And in flagrant violation of the contract, the company has implemented GPS/telematic surveillance.

“The company is already tracking us every day,” said Georgia Scott, a 12-year bus driver who was recently elected treasurer of the union. “Arbitration ruled against [them], but they are still are using tracking.

“There’s a camera pointed directly at me, and another little box that sends off a signal so you know they are tracking you,” she said, “and now there’s another box for when you get on. You tap that with a card, or use a finger. So that’s three devices they are using to track us.”

Veolia/Transdev had gotten the busing management contract—despite not being the lowest bidder—by promising to save the city millions of dollars. One “cost-saving” provision was to require all middle-school students to take public transportation instead of yellow school buses. This attack was largely thwarted, after angry parents flocked to public meetings.

One of the company’s most outlandish moves was to insist that every driver, even if he or she had put in decades of service, reapply for his or her job.

“Most of us, 95 percent, didn’t do a new-hire application,” Scott said. “We said, ‘We are not new employees, the company is new. If anyone should do a new application, it should be the company’—and if they had, they wouldn’t have gotten the job!”
FIRED FOR PROTESTING

On October 8, 2013, in all four bus yards, a group of drivers approached management to demand a meeting over this and other grievances.

Instead of agreeing to meet, the company locked all the drivers out. The union has photos of the chains and padlocks to prove it. Nevertheless news media repeated the company’s spin, which was that the union had held a wildcat strike and left children stranded for the day.

Three days later, five union officers—Francois, Gillis, Stevan Kirschbaum, Garry Murchison, and Rick Lynch, leaders in all four yards—were suspended. Soon four of the suspensions were converted to discharges.

The company even tried to send Kirschbaum to jail. After a 2014 “Solidarity Day” rally in the Freeport bus yard, he was charged with assault, trespassing, breaking and entering, and malicious destruction of property.

The felony charges against him were so transparently false, it took a jury took just 10 minutes to render a verdict of “not guilty.”
GLOBAL UNION-BUSTER

Veolia/Transdev’s heavy-handed tactics in Boston reflect its pattern of union-busting wherever it goes.

In San Francisco, for instance, Veolia got paid $399,000 in 2013 for a few months’ work negotiating for Bay Area Rapid Transit against Service Employees (SEIU) Local 1021 and Transit (ATU) Local 1555. Last year these negotiations provoked a strike.

In Phoenix in 2012, the National Labor Relations Board found that Veolia had engaged in “regressive, bad-faith, and surface bargaining,” forcing ATU Local 1433 bus drivers to strike. Only when threatened with a federally mandated default settlement did the company back down and agree to a deal.

And in Las Vegas in 2013, the NLRB ordered Veolia “to cease and desist from refusing to bargain collectively” with ATU Local 1637 bus drivers and to stop “interfering with, restraining or coercing its employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization.”

But there are pockets of resistance. In Pensacola, Florida, after the company hired 200 scabs to replace union bus drivers during a one-day strike in 2011, the community forced the county to terminate its contract with Veolia. The coalition that forced Veolia out included ATU Local 1395, the NAACP, the Rainbow Coalition, Occupy Pensacola, churches, riders, and disabled groups.

Other city governments have terminated contracts with Veolia/Transdev, including Indianapolis; San Diego; St. Louis; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Rockland, Massachusetts; and the company’s hometown, Paris, as well as several other cities in France.

“Transdev is by far the worst, most union-hating company we have even had to deal with, but they didn’t know what they were up against when they took on Local 8751,”said Kirschbaum.

“We are not backing down. We are going to get our jobs back, we will get a decent contract for our members, and we will have safe transportation for our precious cargo. Whatever it takes, we are going to win.”

Gerry Scoppettuolo is a member of Pride at Work in Massachusetts.
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Re: Evil Transdev

Postby Swift » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:47 pm

Froggy arrogance at it's finest. :P
Sounds like this mob just move from town to town untie they get their way. They can afford to fail as there are plenty of other municipalities to support them.
Multinationals are the bane of this planet.
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Re: Evil Transdev

Postby Fleet Lists » Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:15 pm

http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/12 ... -children/

Boston: Justice for the drivers, safety for the children!

By Minnie Bruce Pratt posted on December 4, 2015
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Drivers of the Boston School Bus Union, Steelworkers Local 8751, are continuing their fierce fight against union-busting, corporate giant Veolia/Transdev. In 2013, Veolia, a French-based company, took over management of Boston school transportation. Operating as its merger partner Transdev, global Veolia then launched a vicious campaign against the union, its members and the communities it serves.

In the two years since, the union has been led by newly formed Team Solidarity, which brings rank-and-file activism into the bus yards every day. The union has forced Veolia back to the bargaining table with militant tactics.
Team Solidarity members at a Boston bus driver yard rally are from left to right: Samir Stanley, Angie Louis Charles, Georgia Scott, Jean Brazile (behind Georgia), Robert Salley.WW photo: Stevan Kirschbaum

A hundred people joined the 18-member Team Negotiating Committee at the hotel in September where bargaining is going on. Rank-and-file workers and supporters filled the parking lot, blared union songs and created a shouting gauntlet through which Veolia and Boston Public School bosses had to pass. Then the ranks packed the Negotiating Committee room.

Union President Andre François and other USW 8751 negotiators expressed the leadership’s determination to beat back all Veolia/City concessions, win reinstatement of the four illegally fired leaders, as well as secure economic justice for the 900-plus members and their families. They vowed to bring the fighting power of the rank and file to the negotiating table and to the bus yards.

USW 8751 is a militant, politically active union that’s fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Boston community in many battles throughout the years. This was the union that got children safely to school through racist mobs in the 1974 desegregation struggle. The current Veolia attack on USW 8751 is an aggressive austerity attack on a majority people-of-color union and on public education — those riding the buses are primarily young people of color.

Driver Georgia Scott, who was born in Selma, Ala., told WW in August: “This is the same struggle as 1965 in Selma. Schools were limited [there] — all black, all white. The education system did not work for people of color. … Veolia cutting back on the buses, that will limit our children, their safety and their choices of education.”

The Boston School Bus Union drivers are also the parents and grandparents of the students riding their buses. They live in the communities where they drive the buses and want the best for the children.

Previous USW 8751 contracts established strong standards for bus safety, routes allowing drivers to get children to school on time and limits on ride duration for children with special needs. Veolia/Transdev has tried to cut these kinds of safeguards out of the new contract since the company will make greater profit by forcing children off buses onto the Boston Mass Transit (MBTA) and by pushing drivers to “save time” by going out in unsafe ­buses.

Georgia Scott, the grandmother of school-age granddaughters in Boston and Local 8751’s treasurer, comments: “A camera is not going to protect the child. It’s me. I’m the one who will protect the child. That’s the most important piece of our work, the monitors and the drivers. We are the safety zone for the children.”

In current negotiations, USW 8751 is in a fight with Veolia to remove unacceptable political, contractual and monetary concessions from the new contract. All but a few of those concessions have been beaten back, but those remaining are of critical importance.

Team Solidarity continues in stalwart negotiation for a fair contract that respects them and the children riding the school buses.

And while they bargain, the drivers are also wearing T-shirts with a poised cobra and a “Will Strike if Provoked” slogan.

USW 8715 asks for your support in this crucial stage of contract negotiations. For more information and to donate, you can go to youcaring.com/rehirethe4.

Sara Catalinotto, Martha Grevatt and Terri Kay also contributed to this report.
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Re: Evil Transdev

Postby Swift » Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:51 pm

Its amazing how people dismiss the contribution of unionism to their pay and conditions untile they are under real threat themselves ( not referring to this story).
Union membership started rising under the John Howard work choices era.
I wonder why. :roll:
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