Members of Bus Drivers’ Union Plan Weekend Rally in Wake of Firings

They are calling for the reinstatement of employees let go after a "wildcat strike" in October.

Members of Boston’s school bus drivers’ union are planning to hold a rally on Saturday, asking that officials fired following an impromptu strike in October get their jobs back.

In an attempt to “run union busting out of Boston,” members of Local 8751 are taking part in a “solidarity day,” hosted by The Committee to Defend the School Bus Union Five. “For decades this union has stood with us, labor and the community.  Now it is time for us to stand with them! An injury to one is an injury to all,” according to a statement on the group’s website.

Last month, bus drivers responsible for transporting students around Boston went on a strike, leaving just 30 of the 650 district’s buses on the roads, and thousands of parents and students stranded without a way to get to school. Hundreds of members of United Steelworkers of America Local 8751, which represents 700 bus drivers in the city, staged a protest outside of a bus depot in Dorchester, refusing to work.

Officials from the Boston Public School system said the strike was connected to disagreements between union members and Veolia Transportation. Veolia Transportation contracts with BPS to operate the school bus fleet. Bus drivers are the employees of Veolia, not the city of Boston. The U.S. Steelworkers Union Local 8751 represents them, however.

The group is planning their November 9 protest outside of the headquarters of Veolia Transportation’s corporate offices.

In the days following the strike, the city continuously kept parents on edge, warning them to have a back-up plan to get their children to school, in case another “wildcat strike” occurred. So far there hasn’t been one.

The union claims Veolia Transportation recently fired two employees that were allegedly tied to organizing the strike. Three others were suspended and threatened with being fired, they said. Union members are referring to them as the “School Bus Union 5.”

Despite the fact that they didn’t show up for work, Union representatives claim “there never was a wildcat strike” or any threat of one since, and the rumors are nothing more than attempt to “drive a wedge between the union and the community,” according to the event website.

“The fear mongering, phony-panic forced upon Boston’s parents, orchestrated by the Mayor and BPS, is irresponsible,” they wrote. “The discriminatory targeting of these particular leaders represents a calculated effort on the part of Veolia and Mayor Menino to break the organizational backbone and infrastructure of the union.”

Boston reached out to the event organizers, but did not immediately receive a reply.