Veolia Transportation fired four leaders of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, Steelworkers Union Local 8751, in mid-November for an alleged illegal walkout on Oct. 8. In reality, Veolia locked out the workers in the midst of a protected labor action, and is using the incident to try to bust Local 8751. The following actions protesting Veolia were taken to expose the company and show support for the local.
On Long Island, N.Y., on Nov. 20, protesters stood in front of Nassau Inter-County Express, the bus company operated by Veolia and headquartered in Garden City. The multinational corporation has literally barred access to its property. Since 2011, the Veolia Corporation, which privatized bus service in Nassau County, has cut routes and cut the number of stops buses make. Recently, the Long Island Bus Riders Union issued a report complaining about NICE’s inadequate service for people with disabilities. (Long Island Newsday, Oct. 29)
At the Rosa Parks Bus Terminal in nearby Hempstead, riders and bus drivers alike expressed anger and frustration over Veolia’s indifference. Elderly people and those with disabilities said conditions have deteriorated since the takeover. Many riders said their “Metro” cards are sometimes swiped clean, and these workers have lost money that the company refuses to refund. The Long Island Bus Riders Union endorsed the struggle of the Boston school bus drivers, saying, “Unity between the drivers and the riders is crucial for fighting Veolia!”
In Philadelphia, supporters of the Boston school bus drivers and monitors held a protest outside Veolia’s office in the Comcast Building on Nov. 21.
Reports from Heather Cottin on Long Island and Berta Joubert-Ceci in Philadelphia.