Local 4268 has reached a tentative first collective agreement with First Student Canada for drivers east of Toronto after a marathon round of bargaining, grappling with the issue of unpaid work.
“We have reached a deal that addresses our key concerns, and better reflects the hours drivers actually work,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.
The main sticking point in bargaining was unpaid time for the drivers at the beginning and the end of each work shift. Drivers are not paid until the first student is picked up, and are not paid for the work time needed to inspect buses in the morning or scrape ice from the windows.
Full details of the new collective agreement will be released after a ratification meeting to be held with members in the coming days. The deal was reached minutes before the November 30 at 12:01 a.m. strike deadline.
“When you count up all the hours worked and the pay school bus drivers receive, they were working for less than minimum wage,” Rizvi said. “It’s a full-time commitment for part-time pay.”
The 260 drivers at First Student Ajax and First Student Brooklin serve approximately 10,000 students east of Toronto, and in parts of Scarborough. The workers joined Unifor in May 2017.
Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery said the unpaid hours makes it difficult to recruit new drivers, which leads to shortages.
“The best way to recruit new drivers is to treat them fairly,” Montgomery said. “We love driving buses, and deserve to be paid for all the hours we work. That’s only fair.”