Support Chittenden drivers
BURLINGTON, Vt.--It's not "business as usual" for the bus drivers of the Chittenden County Transit Authority (CCTA).
When a Teamsters union business agent accepted a tentative agreement that didn't address members' concerns, a group calling itself the "Sunday Breakfast Club" decided to take matters into its own hands and organize fellow drivers to resist the unacceptable contract offer.
The "Sunday Breakfast Club" was the name adopted by CCTA drivers Jim Fouts, Scott Ranney, Mike Walker, Chuck Norris-Brown and others because Sunday mornings were the only time they could all meet to discuss work and contractual concerns.
Last October, after a "tentative agreement" was rejected by 97 percent of the drivers, a fact-finder was brought in to resolve the dispute. Unfortunately, working on information supplied by management and union officials, the new agreement did not address driver issues regarding shortened workdays and part-time employees. With a "no" vote looming on the proposal, CCTA drivers have made it clear that they will strike if necessary to achieve a satisfactory contract, with or without the support of their union officials.
The drivers have come to realize that, in addition to the CCTA Board of Directors, their own union officials are part of the problem. Although the Sunday Breakfast Club has invited union leadership to community solidarity-building activities, including a February 6 rally at Burlington City Hall and an April 4 "We Are One" informational picket and "Which Way Forward for Labor" panel discussion, union leaders have so far declined to be involved.
Instead, an activist coalition including student groups from the University of Vermont and St. Michael's College, community members, workers, individual labor leaders and the Burlington International Socialist Organization has formed in support of the drivers.
Rather than being restrained by union officials who might prefer to settle rather than fight, these drivers are taking the initiative to organize themselves for struggle. With the war against labor spreading, Vermont's CCTA drivers are exhibiting the kind of organization and effort needed to win.