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May 31, 2020
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Teamsters Members of Local 597 on the Front Lines During COVID-19 Crisis
Updated On: Apr 24, 2020
Teamster Drivers and Dispatchers at GMT in Burlington with the Local 597 Business Agent.

Teamster Bus Drivers on the Front Lines

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, Teamsters Local 597 members who work for city and rural bus companies have been going the extra mile to keep the public safe. Pushing the companies they work for to enact more stringent safety and sanitation protocols as the dangers of the virus emerge. 

"Every day the Teamster drivers and mechanics that work at the busing companies around the state would come up with another idea to make the buses more sanitized," said Curtis Clough, Local 597 Business Agent. "The drivers would see something on the news, or happening in the community, or come up with a good idea and everyone would start pushing to get the Vermont bus companies to adopt stricter safety protocols. The bus companies, some of whom were initially resistant, have reacted to pressure from the members to really enhance the safety not just for themselves, but for the public at large."

Some of the drivers, like Valerie Sevene at GMT Stowe, implemented social distancing on their buses long before the company was able to form coherent policies, keeping passengers separated, cleaning seats after every person that sat in them, and roping off seats on the bus were among the kinds of measures drivers took on their own before even recieving company approval. 

"It has been stressful out here, but for the most part people have been more than willing to comply to the social distancing I put in place by assigning seats," said Valerie Sevene, Driver at GMT in Stowe. "Many people thanked me and told me it was a great idea."

It is the drivers themselves whom have taken up most of the responsibility at Tri-Valley Transit companies, Stagecoach and ACTR, and remote GMT locations like Stowe, spending time after each shift to disinfect the entire bus. The drivers give the interior a solid dose of bleach and use disinfecting wipes on all the touch surfaces, as well as strictly enforce temporary safety policies that reduce the risk to the public like social distancing, all while continuing to serve the low income communities that rely upon them. 

At other GMT locations the maintenance employees, even including some mechanics, turn into an team of disinfecters who swarm the buses to make sure they are safe once they have pulled back into the yard at the end of the day, using fogging devices before they go back on road for the day's service. All this is being supplemented by the drivers themselves who frequently disinfect certain areas of the bus each day. 

The union recently negotiated a $3/hr temporary pay increase for the members at GMT in recognition of the increased risk associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, similar to the bonus being offered to Teamsters at Tri-Valley in all locations. 

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  Current Campaigns  
  • Teamsters understand the value in union membership. Higher pay, better benefits, and a greater voice in the workplace are standards set by union members that won’t be given up without a fight, even after the Supreme Court’s decision in the “Janus v. AFSCME” case.

    While it is true that this ruling may create temporary roadblocks, public employees throughout the United States need to remain unified. We cannot allow the progress working people have made in union to be slowed down because of lawsuits that disregard the value of public employees.

    The Janus decision came about because anti-employee forces spent millions of dollars on lobbying and court challenges for over 40 years. Attacks from these outside groups, backed by secret donors, seek to eliminate the freedom of public employees to negotiate with their employer over the value of their work.

    Many Teamster members around the country have held conversations with their co-workers about the impact of the Supreme Court decision to reinforce the value of remaining unified. Whether at the worksite or at the ballot box, members are fighting back against these attacks.

    Public sector Teamsters have made it their career to serve their country and community, and any attempt to take away their freedom to join together is an attack on those who are the foundation of America.

    Our middle class was built by everyday working people, standing together in union. The Teamsters honor that history by continuing the fight to give working people the promise of the American dream.

    That won’t end with the Janus decision. The Teamsters will continue to organize, mobilize, and do whatever is necessary to achieve prosperity through collective action.

  • In July 2011, the plan to restructure YRC Worldwide Inc. (YRCW) aimed at saving more than 25,000 Teamster freight jobs was successfully completed. The restructuring has saved good Teamster freight jobs. This page is dedicated to providing our YRCW members updates about developments that affect them.

  • This page provides the latest contract information to the 7,500 Teamsters—drivers, dockworkers and office staff—employed by ABF Freight System, Inc.

  • This Web page provides the latest updates for the national contract, riders and supplements that cover about 3,500 Teamsters at DHL Express.

  • We Are eXPOsing XPO’s Global Greed

    XPO Logistics is a top ten global logistics and transportation company with annual revenue of $15 billion and 89,000 employees, another 10,000 workers classified as independent contractors, and thousands more working for firms that subcontract with XPO. We are the REAL workers at XPO Logistics worldwide exposing the truth about the company’s global greed, illegal wage theft, unsafe conditions, and abhorrent and vicious anti-worker, anti-union tactics. 

    This greed includes mistreating former Con-way Freight workers in the United States who are being kept in the dark about terminal closures and layoffs, and the company’s illegal refusal to bargain contracts and denying their workers’ federally protected right to organize. It also includes port, rail and last-mile drivers around the country and in Southern California fighting wage theft in excess of $200 million because they are misclassified as independent contractors and denied the right to form their union. This greed has caused numerous lawsuits and strikes.  Greed also means an unsafe workplace and mistreating its warehouse employees.

    XPO’s greed extends to Europe beginning with breaking its promise to not layoff any workers for at least 18 months. French workers and the unions have been fighting back against XPO’s disrespect, lies and attempts to slash jobs. Similar struggles are taking place in Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and across Europe.

    Join the worldwide struggle now! Get involved with this campaign by joining the Facebook group “XPO Exposed.”

    Together, we can eXPOse the company’s global greed and win fairness, respect and dignity for tens of thousands of XPO employees around the world!

  • The Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP) assists Active Duty Service members that are transitioning, Veterans and Military spouses with job opportunities with responsible employers.

  • Workers’ pensions are being endangered by both Congress and those charged with overseeing them. The Teamsters and our members are standing united to say “No!” to cuts and “Yes!” to greater retirement security!

  • The ‘Let’s Get America Working!’ campaign seeks to restore a dynamic and prosperous middle class to drive economic growth by helping to advance policy decisions that create and maintain good middle-income jobs, guarantee retirement security, expand access to the American Dream, and ensure that the benefits of the ongoing economic recovery are felt by the many, not just the few.

  • This webpage provides information on the Teamsters Union’s legislative advocacy at both the federal and state level as well as our field activity to support those policy positions and to get strong labor candidates elected to office.  Among other resources, you will find our federal legislative scorecard, formal statements of policy position and communications to Capitol Hill,  a weekly update on federal legislative happenings, an overview of bills we are tracking at the state level, and quick links to take action on priority issues.

  • This web page provides information on the ongoing effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since 1994, NAFTA has devastated working families, putting corporate profits ahead of people.  What’s worse is that NAFTA has become the blueprint for all other trade agreements, from the way that it was negotiated in secret, to the bad provisions that have made their way into every agreement that has been signed since then.  Now, NAFTA is being renegotiated and we demand that it be reframed to work for workers instead of corporate interests.

Teamsters Local 597
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