Durham bus drivers, aides in Roanoke City vote against joining union

Vote comes after months of staffing, bus route issues

ROANOKE, Va. – Bus drivers and aides for Durham School Services in Roanoke City voted Tuesday night against joining the Amalgamated Transit Union, or ATU.

Durham officials say 162 employees voted against joining the union, and 43 voted in favor of the move.

Now, either ATU or Durham can file an appeal.

The vote comes after months of staffing and bus route issues.

Employees first approached the union in the fall.

ATU Organizing Director Chris Townsend would not say exactly how many workers of the 230 total employees initially expressed interest but added he was optimistic before the vote that the group would vote to join the union.

“We, customarily as a union, we don’t go to the National Labor Relations Board for an election unless we have a significant majority," Townsend said.

He added that Durham has been campaigning against the union, which is a legal right given to companies.

Durham released a statement to WSLS that reads:

“We believe that employees are entitled to make their own informed decision regarding union representation in a free and fair secret ballot election. If our employees in Roanoke choose to be represented, we will work with the union as we do with our other represented locations across North America.”

In response to the busing problems in Roanoke, Durham hired a new general manager, increased bonuses for drivers and added a new bus-tracking app.

The Roanoke City School District told 10 news in a statement: “The district is pleased with the progress. We will continue to work with Durham to address issues. As for the union piece, the District doesn’t have an opinion because officials say it shouldn’t impact bus service for students.”

If workers had voted to join the union, the collective bargaining process would have begun, where the ATU would work with Durham to agree on wages and benefits.

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