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MA Local Blocks School Bus Service Privatization Scheme

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By John Killoy, AFSCME Council 93 Worth the Fight Privatization

WAREHAM, Mass. – The school bus drivers of Local 30 in Wareham, Mass., have scored a major victory over privatization.

Over the past several months, the members of Local 30 have been working with Council 93 to fight a proposed plan to privatize the jobs of 28 dedicated school bus drivers in the Wareham School Department.

Superintendent Kimberly Shaver-Hood was quietly trying to hand over operations of the public school transportation system to First Student – a private, for-profit corporation.

The Wareham School Department had issued a request for proposals (RFP) to privatize public school busing starting with the 2018-2019 school year and had received a bid which was set to be reviewed and voted on by the School Committee. The jobs of 28 dependable, reliable, and trusted school department employees were in jeopardy.

Local 30, working in conjunction with Council 93 and AFSCME International staff, was able to use in-depth analysis and research of the bid proposal and the private contractor to educate the public and school board members about the pitfalls and costs of privatizing public services.

On May 8– the day before the School Committee was scheduled to vote on privatization – the drivers received word that the administration was abandoning the privatization plan.

Marie Ferreira, a Wareham bus driver for 23 years and Local 30 steward, worked diligently to rally her members and the public to educate the School Committee on the vital role bus drivers play in the Wareham school community and to save the jobs of 28 dedicated Wareham School Department employees.

She said she was grateful for the “assistance, research, and guidance provided by AFSCME Council 93 as we fought back the attack on our public sector jobs.”

“We know that the union is always by our side, especially when we are under attack,” Ferreira said.

This is not the first time Local 30 has had to fight back a privatization bid in Wareham. Four years ago, the School Committee had proposed privatizing the Wareham Public School cafeteria service. The local worked with Council 93 back then to put together a plan to educate the public and committee members on the dangers of privatizing public services.