December 23, 2010

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Bus drivers, monitors vote to strike

NEWBURGH – School bus drivers and monitors who are members of Teamsters Local 445 headquartered in Newburgh have voted almost unanimously to strike against several area school districts.

The 175 workers are employed by Durham School Services, a subsidiary of National Express Corporation of the United Kingdom, which has contracts with the Rhinebeck, Spackenkill, and Rondout school districts and Dutchess County BOCES.

Local 445 Secretary-Treasurer Adrian Huff said that most of the employees are paid $11 or less per hour, with many making minimum wage. The company has offered a three percent raise, which is “insignificant,” said Huff.

“These employees do not receive any sick time, vacation, hospitalization; if they were to get hospitalization, they would have to pay 100 percent of that cost.”

Huff said custodial workers are paid nearly twice as much as school bus drivers.  He characterized Durham as “a huge multinational corporation with no apparent interest in the welfare of its school bus employees.”

National Express operated Stewart Airport for some three years after the state privatized the facility. It wound up selling the remainder of its 99 year lease to the current operator, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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