By Bonnie Morr,
Vice President, Bus –
In December, I attended a school bus summit in Washington hosted by the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. Though the topics of discussion centered around school bus issues, many were pertinent to our global bus community.
Whether we are operating a tour bus, transit bus, school bus, van or shuttle, we are dealing with the same types of management and the same problems, concerns and health issues.
The one topic that really stirs my gut has to do with the practice of privatization. Privatization involves handing over control of public functions to private companies. The government pays a contractor to provide public services. Often, the contractors are foreign entities. Our tax dollars, that are used to fund public transit – rail or bus – that fund school bus systems and special-service transportation, are now going offshore. These contractors are running operations here and are doing it for a profit. How are they making a profit? Off of the backs of labor – by cutting wages and benefits. That’s how.
Our own tax dollars are being used to cheapen our labor, lowering the standard of living for our families and causing harm to our future and the futures of our sons and daughters. This is wrong – very wrong. We must have legislation that compels any company receiving one cent of public money to protect the employees and their families by providing decent wages and health benefits. And when they make a profit, so should the worker. Not one tax dollar should be used against the people that pay the taxes.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congress and the Obama Administration have provided transit agencies with opportunities to replace and expand vehicle fleets, restore and modernize aging infrastructure, and engage in procurements that had been deferred or cancelled due to the current economic situation. The goal of that act was to ensure that these purchases “preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery.” Let’s apply the same principle to our service jobs and keep our tax dollars from going overseas. Let’s stop outsourcing our service jobs to foreign companies. It is time for our legislators to get to work on what is in the best interest of the American people.