Laval, May 29, 2023 — We learned on Monday in an interview by Daniel Leblanc with Autobus Campeau in the Le Droit that school bussing in the Outaouais is not only less well funded than elsewhere in Quebec, but that if school bus operators were funded at the same level as elsewhere in Quebec, strikes could have likely been avoided.
Nearly 300 school bus drivers, members of Teamsters Local Union 106, have been on strike in the Outaouais since the beginning of May. The situation stems from employers’ refusal to negotiate and pay drivers a decent wage – a wage which reflects the importance of their role in their communities.
Since then, we have repeatedly asked these companies to meet with us, and our requests have been consistently ignored. Even after working with the employers to appoint conciliators to facilitate discussions, these discussions failed immediately, as the employers had “nothing new” to offer us.
The strikes have affected thousands of students and as many families, in addition to causing economic damage to the region. While we learned last week that schools were financially compensating parents, a bleak picture seems to be emerging: this strike is the result of opaque and failing policies around school bus service in the Outaouais. While the Teamsters Union is disappointed not to have been informed of the situation by employers earlier, we must move forward.
The situation in the Outaouais is not unique. School bus drivers affiliated to the Teamsters Union are currently on strike for the same reasons in other regions, in Magog, Lachute, Yamaska, as well as on Montreal’s South Shore. Are the alleged failures in the Outaouais also present in these regions? And what about the rest of Quebec? Are we going to see the same problems and strikes elsewhere?
We urge the education network, the Ministère de l’Éducation and the Conseil du trésor to urgently address this issue. We hope that the striking drivers will be able to secure wage increases that will allow them to live in dignity and return to work as soon as possible. Indeed, if these allegations prove true, the government bears much of the responsibility for the current situation.
With over 125,000 members, Teamsters Canada is the country’s largest transportation and supply chain union. The organization represents workers at CP, CN, UPS, Purolator, countless trucking companies, and more. They are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents over 1.2 million workers in North America.