UPDATE: Blue Bird workers in Fort Valley vote to join United Steelworkers Union
Workers at the Blue Bird Corporation in Fort Valley voted on Friday to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union, with approximately 1,400 workers becoming part of the USW after a successful organizing effort.
UPDATE (5/12) – Workers at the Blue Bird Corporation in Fort Valley voted on Friday to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union, with approximately 1,400 workers becoming part of the USW after a successful organizing effort.
United Steelworkers International President Tom Conway welcomed the Blue Bird workers.
“We’re proud that Blue Bird workers chose to join our union,” Conway said. “We’re ready to help them bargain a fair contract that accounts for their contributions to the company’s success.”
Blue Bird manufactures school buses, including low-emission and zero-emission models, and represents one of the most significant recent organizing efforts by manufacturing workers in the South.
“Workers at places like Blue Bird in many ways embody the future,” USW District 9 Director Dan Flippo, who represents workers in Georgia and six other southern states, said. “They’re the ones who are making the investments in our infrastructure a reality, the ones who are building the safer, cleaner communities for generations to come.”
The company has been approved to receive significant funding through the EPA’s Clean School Bus program. Flippo emphasized the importance of ensuring workers have a seat at the table as the company receives federal investments.
“For too long corporations cynically viewed the south as a place where they could suppress wages and working conditions because they believed they could keep workers from unionizing,” Flippo said. “Our union has a long history of fighting on behalf of workers in the south and across the country. Now as members of the USW, workers at Blue Bird have the same opportunity to make positive changes in their workplace.”
“We work hard, and we deserve fair pay, safe working conditions and to be treated with respect on the job,” Patrick Watkins, a Blue Bird worker who served on the volunteer organizing committee, said. “It was clear that our only path forward was to take our future into our own hands, and that’s what we did today when we voted to organize.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in various industries, including metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply, energy-producing industries, health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations. For more information, visit http://www.usw.org/.
FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Workers at the Blue Bird Corporation in Fort Valley are voting on Thursday and Friday on whether they will join the United Steelworkers labor union.
The vote comes after union organizers filed seven unfair labor practice charges against the school bus manufacturer in April, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The charges claim that management engaged in surveillance and interrogation of workers, as well as threatened to freeze worker pay and close the plant.
United States Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock wrote a letter to Blue Bird President and CEO Matt Stevenson in response to the charges, asking him to promote free and fair elections.
Workers at Blue Bird also received a letter of support from United States Representative Sanford Bishop in favor of the union vote.
Blue Bird is a publicly-held corporation with headquarters based in Macon. Approximately 1,400 workers will finalize the vote Friday.