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Teamster Contract Overwhelmingly Ratified at STA/Ocean State Transit

Approximately 215 school bus drivers, monitors and aides voted overwhelmingly over the weekend to ratify their first contract with STA/Ocean State Transit and become members of Teamsters Local 251.

The five-year deal calls for significant increases in pay, new dental and vision benefits, a retirement plan with company contributions, multiple bonuses, just-cause job protections, seniority rights and a grievance and arbitration procedure.

“None of the wages, benefits or working conditions were guaranteed or consistent with area standards in Rhode Island before the workers organized with the Teamsters,” said Nick Williams, Local 251 Business Agent. “In fact, we were able to regain benefits for paid days off which had been previously taken away by the employer.”

“We believe this new contract recognizes the commitment these workers have for safely transporting our children every day,” said Matt Taibi, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 251. “These dedicated school bus workers sought Teamster representation eighteen months ago and saw it through to a Teamster contract. In these challenging times being a Teamster has more value than ever. We appreciate the community support. We would like to thank them as well as the Teamsters’ Passenger Transportation Division and Strategic Research and Campaigns Departments for their assistance in reaching this successful conclusion for our new members.”

“I’m pretty sure everyone breathed a sigh of relief after this vote,” said Charlene Gomes, a long-time driver at the location. “With all the uncertainty out there nowadays, we have everything guaranteed in a Teamster contract for the next five years.”

Student Transportation of America (STA) is the second largest school transportation company in the country. Teamsters Local 251 represents over 6,300 workers in a wide variety of industries throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

Take Action Today To Fight for All Essential Workers

Teamsters Local 251 has joined 75 unions and organizations nationwide to fight for an Essential Workers Bill of Rights, including hazard pay and workplace safety protections.

Right now, millions of essential workers are out on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis saving lives.

But instead of giving us what we need, essential workers are being placed in high-risk conditions without hazard pay, appropriate equipment, safety standards, or job protections. Nonunion workers have it worst of all.

Very soon, Congress will introduce the next economic recovery bill. They have a HUGE opportunity to protect essential workers but we need to be as loud as we can.

Join Local 251 members and over 75 local and national organizations by taking action today.

Sign the Petition for an Essential Worker Bill of Rights

Record a Video with this easy tool encouraging your members of Congress support an Essential Worker Bill of Rights.

One union! One goal! Let’s stand together today to win respect for all essential workers.

April Membership Meeting Cancelled

Due to CDC guidelines and State of RI directives on public gatherings during the current pandemic, Teamsters Local 251 Executive Board voted to cancel the April monthly membership meeting. Future membership meetings will be evaluated based on public health issues and directives.

Local 251 Business Agents and Representatives will be recording a virtual presentation of their reports. Members are encouraged to text IBT251Alert to 313131 to receive access information for this recorded presentation.*

(*By opting in to text alerts, all message & data rates may apply. You may stop alerts at any time by texting STOP.)

Contract proposal and ratification meetings will be conducted virtually while we cannot have meetings of over 5 people. Details for teleconference/webcast meetings will be provided by the assigned Business Agent or the Local Union directly. Contract votes will be conducted online and by telephone through a third party vendor that specializes in elections & voting.

While we’ve been pushing Employers to provide necessary PPE for employees, the Local has ordered some additional PPE with Local 251 logos, for members working on the frontlines of this public health crisis. Business Agents will be figuring out a plan to distribute these supplies when they are available.

Additional COVID-19 Resources

For employees of certain employers:
Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave

State Resources
RI Dept of Health Guidance on COVID-19
Rhode Island COVID-19 Response Data
MA Resources on COVID-19

IBT Resources
IBT COVID-19 Outbreak Resources
Teamsters Safety & Health Coronavirus Factsheets
Workers Who Are at Increased Risk
COVID-19 Symptoms
COVID-19 Prevention Tips

Local Office Update

Due to public health concerns and to balance staff safety with member access to the Local, we’ve instituted the following procedures:

Please call or email the Local staff member most appropriate to address your concerns. We will try to address concerns in this manner as best as possible to avoid being in close proximity with one another.

All in person access is by appointment only. Please call 401-434-0454 to schedule an appointment during regular business hours. Please be patient as the appropriate staff member may not be in the office on a regular

Click Here for More Information

Local 251 Health Services has a similar procedure during this current state of emergency. Call 401-467-3323 to address any concerns.

We thank you for your consideration during these challenging times. We will update as needed.

Coronavirus Update

Attention Teamsters Local 251 Members:

We are keeping up with updates on the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and seek to comply to guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and RI Department of Health. Please stay informed and take necessary safety precautions during this time.

The March 15 Construction Division contract proposal meeting has been postponed until further notice.
The March 29 General Membership Meeting has been cancelled. All future Membership Meetings are still scheduled as of now, but we will assess the situation for each meeting as they approach as needed.

For members on Local 251 Health Services medical plan, member co-pays for COVID-19 tests have been waived.
As a reminder, Doctor On Demand telemedicine services are part of the medical benefits already. Please Click Here for Dr On Demand if you cannot see your primary care physician in a timely manner.

Click Here for More Information

Let’s all please be safe for our families and the community. We will update members on these matters as well as normal union matters by blast text alerts and web/social media platforms. Please text IBT251alert to 313131 for text alerts.*

*By opting in to text alerts, all message & data rates may apply. You may stop alerts at any time by texting STOP.

Local 251 Officers Sworn In

Local 251 elected Officers and Agents were sworn in by Paul MacDonald, long-time President of the Providence Central Labor Council and friend of Local 251, at the Sunday, Jan. 26th Membership Meeting.

On September 14, 2019, Teamsters Local 251 held a nomination meeting for Officers and Agents. All candidates were elected by acclamation to serve for the term of January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2022.

The following candidates were elected: Secretary Treasurer—Matthew Taibi; President—Paul Santos; Vice President—Antonio Suazo; Recording Secretary—Brooke Reeves; Trustee—Michael Simone; Trustee—Carl Chicoine; Trustee—Decio Goulart; Business Agent—Paul Santos; Business Agent—Matthew Maini; Business Agent—Bob Sayer; Business Agent—Thomas Salvatore; Business Agent—David Robbins

Standing Together, We Win!

More than 160 Teamster drivers, helpers and warehouse workers at Centrex stood together and won big gains in their new contract.

Centrex is the largest beer, liquor and wine distributor in Rhode Island. The company has been profitable for years, but Teamsters saw little change in their wages and benefits—until they organized and fought for them through a contract campaign.

“This contract marks an exciting time for us at Centrex,” said night steward Dave Gareau. “People are excited and ready to fight for from here on out.”
Members built solidarity by coming together in parking lot rallies and cookouts. This summer, pressure escalated and Centrex Teamsters unanimously voted to authorize a strike.

High-seniority members united with newer hires, to demand higher wages for lower-tier workers and to shorten the progression to top rates. They won a $5/hr. increase for new hires, and a $4.50/hr. increase for existing workers. Members also won an extra week of paid vacation and maintained employer-paid Teamster healthcare.

“For too long, we weren’t seeing the wealth we create for Centrex reflected in our pockets,” explains steward David Donofio. “This contract not only pushes us closer to where we should be, but it gives us respect and power over our working conditions, with vacation and healthcare, too.”

Celebrating Al Torigian

Al Torigian worked as a UPS package car driver for 25 years before being elected to serve as a full-time union Business Agent.

Al cut his Teamster teeth during the 1997 UPS strike, when he was arrested and terminated for “disorderly conduct” on the picket line. Teamster President Ron Carey got him and others exonerated and back on the job following the successful strike.

Al was always exceptionally honest and trustworthy—the qualities you depend on in a Business Agent and union brother. He also has a great sense of humor.

The Local 251 Family will miss Al’s leadership and we wish him many happy years in retirement. He deserves them.

Members Reverse Some Concessions at YRCW

Local 251 members at YRCW and New Penn voted to approve a new 5-year contract that raises wages, restores a week of vacation and protects benefits.

YRCW and New Penn workers are struggling to reverse concessions after bad business decisions and mismanagement put YRCW on the verge of bankruptcy.

Improvements won in this contract include:

  • $4.00 in wage increases over five years for the vast majority of workers (an 18% increase for most drivers and dockworkers).
  • The highest pension contributions in the country, totalling $1.25 over the life of the contract.
  • Significant increases for dock-only, clerical, maintenance employees, janitors and porters hired after February 2014.
  • Restoration of the week of vacation that was given up years ago, effective April 1, 2019.
  • Protection of health and welfare benefits with no employee premium co-pays.
  • Improved language to curb excessive executive bonuses.
  • Prohibitions against using driverless trucks.

Hospital Teamsters Won Best Contract in Years

In 2019, more than 2,500 Teamsters who work at Rhode Island Hospital won their best contract in years with wage increases, a $15 minimum wage, Teamster health care, retirement security, and job security protections.

Members set these bargaining goals by speaking out at meetings and filling out contract surveys.

A Contract Action Team organized unity actions and members stood behind the elected Negotiating Committee to win contract improvements. Members approved the contract with a 97.5% yes vote.

“This is the best contract I’ve seen in my 25 years as a Rhode Island Hospital Teamster,” said Paul Santos, Local 251 President and an over 30-year veteran hospital employee.

“We’re very proud of the membership. You don’t win a contract like that without sticking together,” Secretary-Treasurer and principal officer Matt Taibi said.