Transportation staff in the Queensbury Central School District recently completed a different kind of drive — a union membership drive.
The Queensbury School Transportation Employees Association is the latest local to join the NYSUT family, voting overwhelmingly in late October to affiliate with the statewide union. Nearly all eligible staff — 44 out of 46 — have signed their union cards.
“One of the main reasons we organized was to have union backing for job security and a more prosperous future,” new local President Maureen Doran said, listing off numerous other benefits that new members are looking to access, including insurance through NYSUT Member Benefits-endorsed programs and lifetime retiree membership. “Going forward, we wanted to make sure that we have the backing of a statewide union to protect our rights.”
QSTEA covers bus drivers, bus aides, mechanics, dispatchers and auto mechanic helpers in the district.
“Our transportation staff are essential. They’re the first ones many children see each morning and the last they see each afternoon,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “They deserve respect and support from their districts and their communities. That’s what the union is here for: to have their backs and fight for the recognition they deserve.”
It’s not the first time that the district’s transportation staff has sought to unionize. Doran said there have been a few efforts in years past, though not since she arrived six years ago. The 2022 drive comes under different circumstances, though, as staff felt like they needed a stronger voice both at and away from the bargaining table.
“Some of the employees have been union workers in the past or are from a union strong family, so of course many of them were onboard right away,” Doran said. “Then we have some employees who were not interested in the union but have since changed their minds and signed up.”
Though staffers previously were part of an unaffiliated association that has negotiated a transportation-specific contract with the district, that association’s ability to enforce the contract was limited, and they did not have access to the level of benefits NYSUT locals rely on. They now will have access to representation by NYSUT Field and Legal staff when necessary, in addition to adding their voices to nearly 100,000 School-Related Professionals statewide who help drive the union’s state legislative agenda to support school staff.
“I am the wife of a 35-plus-year union member, so union life is our life,” Doran said. “I know well that when we stand together as one, we can achieve a lot for each other, our district and our community.”