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Dalton, GA, School Bus Strike Over, ATU Local 1212 Members Vote to Ratify Strong Contract with First Student

Union Wins Pay Increases and Other Improvements, Still to Pursue Unfair Labor Practices Against First Student

Dalton, GA – After a unified and strong week-long strike, ATU Local 1212-Chattanooga, TN, school bus workers in Dalton, GA, voted overwhelmingly to approve a strong collective bargaining agreement with First Student to end their strike. Nearly 40 bus drivers, monitors, mechanics, and other student transportation workers walked off the job on May 15 after the company continued to violate federal laws and refused to negotiate with their Union.

“This is a great day for our Dalton School bus members,” said Local 1212 President/Business Agent Lakecha Strickland. “This strike showed the power of fighting for our rights. This was one of the first strikes in Dalton, GA, in decades, and our members stood strong and united. We are thankful for the outpouring of support from our parents, teachers, and the Georgia AFL-CIO, many of whom walked our picket lines. After months of negotiations, this contract recognizes our members for the heroes they truly are.”    

The new 3-year contract with First Student includes substantial wage increases, their first ever paid vacation days, a retention bonus, a new strong grievance procedure, a better seniority system, and other improvements. The Union plans to continue to pursue Unfair Labor Practices charges against the company.

First Student is a longstanding contractor for Dalton Public Schools. The school bus workers voted to join the ATU in December 2022. Bargaining for a contract was productive until last week when talks broke down. Then First Student decided to take away summer work from workers and refused to return to the bargaining table in person until September – over 20 weeks later.

“I am proud of our Dalton School Bus members and the solidarity, resolve, and unity they showed on the picket lines this past week,” said ATU International President John Costa. “The result was a strong contract that recognizes the commitment and dedication of these workers to safely transport their students to and from school and other school activities. Thank you to all our members and our allies who showed up on the line.”