School bus drivers in Pennsylvania may have dealt a deep financial blow to a local union after voting overwhelmingly to cut ties.
Nearly 90 percent of drivers from the Gateway School District voted to withdraw from Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1729 in a June 27 secret ballot election. The vote means that the union will lose out on dues money from the 105 drivers employed by the district.
Local 1729 has been hemorrhaging members over the past 10 years and had just 130 dues-paying members in 2013, down from nearly 240 in 2009, according to federal labor filings. The union had hoped that the Gateway District, which is located in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville, would reverse the trend.
ATU enjoyed a unique advantage in the battle over unionization. In July 2013 the district switched contract providers for school bus service. The new provider, Student Transportation of America, hired a majority of its workforce from a previously unionized contractor and immediately recognized ATU as the driver’s sole bargaining agent.
The union may have enjoyed support from the company, but not the workers. The bus drivers petitioned the National Labor Relations Board, a federal arbiter that oversees unionization, for a secret ballot election to oust the union four times between July and May 2014. All but three of the 105 employees eligible to vote signed the fourth petition, according to the National Right To Work Foundation, which represented the employees in the dispute. The NLRB approved the election in June.