Anchorage, Alaska (December 2, 2004) – A union decertification election has removed Teamsters Union Local 959 as the “exclusive bargaining representative” of more than 200 Anchorage-area school bus drivers and attendants. The victory comes after the employees successfully challenged the results of a previous union decertification election in which Teamsters officials narrowly prevailed when company officials unfairly limited employees’ rights to speak out against union representation. The workers decertified the union by a 105-83 vote.
The most recent decertification election was delayed by a desperate appeal by union officials. The drivers’ employer, First Student, Inc., provides school bus services to the Anchorage School District.
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, school bus driver Jayne Larrassey filed objections to the May 2004 decertification election in which the Teamsters union maintained its status as the workers’ monopoly representative after company officials stifled worker free speech. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 office ordered a new election in July, but union officials appealed the decision to the full NLRB in Washington, delaying the election. However, a three-member panel of the NLRB ordered in November that results from the tainted union decertification election be set aside and that a new election be held because of the actions of company officials.
The federal labor agency’s order affirmed the findings in a report issued by a hearing officer of the NLRB’s Region 19 office. That report found “serious and extensive” company interference by enforcing an “overly broad rule” limiting employees’ rights to distribute pro-decertification literature leading up to the election.
The objections originated when Larrassey exercised her right to oppose the union hierarchy by distributing flyers in the company parking lot promoting the decertification of the Teamsters union as the drivers’ monopoly bargaining agent. However, union activists quickly seized the flyers from the vehicles and turned them over to the union steward, who then reported Larrassey to company officials.
Larrassey was then given a “verbal warning” by a company official and told that any further attempt to circulate pro-decertification literature would result in disciplinary action. Larrassey was reprimanded a second time on the day of the election when she simply stood in a non-work area and reminded people to vote.
“Despite the best efforts of Teamsters officials to stifle dissent, First Student bus drivers will now determine their own future in an atmosphere free from coercion,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
As a result of the decertification victory, First Student employees will now be free to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment and be rewarded on their individual merit.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.