Union, former school bus drivers sue Metro education board, schools director

Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 5:12pm

The local chapter of the United Steelworkers union and four former Metro Nashville school bus drivers filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Board of Public Education and Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register on Jan. 30.

The four drivers — with a combined 48 years of service to the school system — claim they were let go unfairly and illegally.

Three of the drivers said they were notified of being “non-renewed” but weren’t given a reason why they lost their jobs. The job losses weren’t “for cause” or part of a reduction in force, which the union says is a “denial of their constitutional due process rights under the color of law.”

The other driver was terminated after a child traveling in the plaintiff’s school bus was hit by a car and injured. The union maintains, however, that the school district didn’t notify the driver of their decision within 10 working days of her hearing, violating the plaintiff’s due process rights.

The lawsuit comes as tensions have been rising between local unions and the school system.

The union asks for an injunction to put the bus drivers back to work and to compensate them for the time they have been out of work.

MNPS released this statement in regards to the lawsuit: “The district has received the summons and will respond through the appropriate legal channels. This matter is the subject of ongoing litigation and we are confident we will prevail at trial."

18 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 2/16/12 at 4:20

You could not write a book with more sleaze than the shenanigans between the MNPS,its students,its teachers and their ancillary cohorts called janitors,bus drivers and unions.

It has to be worth every dime a family spends to insulate their children in private schools and away from "these people"

By: pswindle on 2/16/12 at 4:27

It is about time that these hard workers have someone to help them. Register is a yes man to Haslam. What a bunch of losers, we have running our state.

By: govskeptic on 2/16/12 at 4:28

Unions have used the Courts and "favorable" government agencies to keep
an uproar going on many many matters that have nothing to do with the
furthering of Education in this state. It's time the School Board and
Administrators dealt only with Education and not have to contend with this
whining and side show antics of the Unions nor their members!

By: Ask01 on 2/17/12 at 7:14

Sadly, with Tennessee being a "Right to Fire" state, they may not accomplish much except to make Dr. Register and the school system look foolish and heartless.

On the other hand, once enough people are victimized by the "Right to Fire," perhaps those unemployed and those fearful f their jobs might actually take the hint and begin electing those who are going to support working people at the expense of businesses, corporations and the wealthy.

The Ballot Box Revolution is building I believe.

By: Ask01 on 2/17/12 at 7:19

Just to offer an opposing opinion, govskeptic, if everyone was treated fairly, say according to the rules of a contract, or memorandum of understanding, there would be little need to resort to the courts. Every requirement spelled out in black and white and questions usually easily settled by open honest arbitration. One suggestion, keep the lawyers out of proceedings and let people deal openly without the theatrics and game playing engaged in by these practitioners of the deceptive arts.

By: Moonglow1 on 2/17/12 at 7:53

Moonglow1: The "Right to Work" ploy is being pushed in every state where a Republican governor reigns. More individuals need to stand up and fight against wrongful terminations. Right to Work is code for Right of Corporate Entities to Terminate Workers at Will Without Cause. This is the reason why unions are more relevant today than ever. In the 21st Century, the United States is culturally and socially turning back the clock. This is because we have some really crazy people pulling the strings. The elected officials are puppets managed by unseen mad men like Adelson and the Kochs who hate unions, hate workers, and hate basically any regulation that would cut even .00000001 percent from their multi billion dollar bottom line.

What does this have to do with this lawsuit? Everything. The country is turning against workers. We are being duped.

By: Jughead on 2/17/12 at 8:18

Unions ruined manufacturing in the US by their never-ending demands. Now, they want to blame everyone but themselves. Scum.

Government regulation and Federal/State labor laws have DESTROYED our economy. I don't blame anyone for moving their manufacturing elsewhere.

It burns my biscuit. Whining, entitled, union thugs live on.


By: Ask01 on 2/17/12 at 12:09

Jughead, your post scores a bullseye.

Yes, unions have shot themselves in the foot when they set forth unreasonable demands. Union leadership can be as corrupt as corporate management, of that I am certain.

I also will concede the morass of regulations governing businesses and labor have in their own way contributed to the cost of doing business.

To be fair though, we must investigate what prompted people to insist upon, and government to pass regulations, and perhaps why unions may have foolishly sought more than proper.

In a nutshell, corporate greed and a willingness to exploit workers, coupled with an unwillingness to deal fairly brought us to where we are today.

Yes, the purpose of a business is to make money, not provide jobs. Of course, that flies in the face of corporate claims of being job creators, creating a sort of paradox. If possible, owners would not have any employees, I know, but since they must have workers to produce goods to sell or to sell those goods, they need to be willing to share an appropriate amount with the hired help. After all, what good is producing merchandise, or stocking shelves, if no one can afford to purchase anything?

Unfortunately, we still need unions, because as we have seen, management does not have workers welfare at heart.

To be honest, I believe management would stab one another in the back for the slightest of bonuses, or sell out their stock holders for a sweet exit bonus.

By: think on 2/17/12 at 2:56

All unions care about are the workers they represent. They do not care about the customers, management, the owners, or even other workers who are not in their union. They are inherently selfish to the point that they are willing to destroy other people's livelihoods to further their own interest.

Everyone rags on management so much, but management has to answer to multiple stakeholders. They are balancing the owners interests with government regulation all while trying to keep their employees happy and provide a quality product or service to their customers. Sometimes the situation calls for the workers to sacrifice for the good of the customers and the owners. That sucks for the workers, and the owners should really do a better job of holding management accountable to sacrifice as well, but if management is forced by government legislation to put the workers before the owners and the customers, what you get is GM. A crappy organization that no one wants to invest in that produces a worthless product. The owners and the customers suffer and the workers flourish.. that is until the customers and owners take their money somewhere that understands how the real world works.

Workers need to start thinking about all of the stakeholders involved. If you all want to live in a union utopia, go ahead and move to Detroit, but please stop trying to ruin my state.

By: pswindle on 2/17/12 at 4:06

Just wait until the Right to Work kicks in. You will beg o have unions.

By: Ask01 on 2/17/12 at 5:17

My observation is management receives the brunt of the abuse because the public sees so many instances in which stores are closed and employees layed off while simultaneously the corporation posts record profits and senior executives are awarded obscene salaries with equally obscene bonuses.

Unions demands may be unreasonable at times, but considering the people they represent are the ones who actually do the work and put money in the till, management and stock holders need to shake loose reasonable wages. The alternative, I suppose, would be to run off the experienced, competent employees, replacing them with inexperienced, incompetent ones. that way, senior management and stock holders could still pocket huge sums of money. Until, of course, customers tire of poor service and go elsewhere.

The other alternative, as more of the middle class drop down the economic ladder, is a revolt by the workers against corporations and the wealthy.

We might see a democratic sweep at the next election, leaving the rich and corporate entities facing almost certain tax hikes and even further regulation.

Now, wouldn't you rather management and unions sit down and play nice?

pswindle is right, though. People who fall victim to the 'Right to Fire' I mean 'Right to Work' will be angry. Those fearing for their employment might become fearful, then angry. If they join forces, who knows what might happen next election?

By: teacherfriend on 2/18/12 at 7:43

All this talk comparing union in business to unions of public employees is senseless, because the organizations are not the same. Businesses exist for one purpose - to make money. All their decisions are based on making more money. Public institutions, in this case school systems, are political organizations. Decisions are made for entirely different reasons, usually trying to respond to the headline of the day. That is why public employees need the protection of unions much more than private employees do, to protect them against capricious decisions made by politicians trying to act like management. I have been in management in the private sector and am now a teacher in the public sector - I have seen it.

By: Ask01 on 2/18/12 at 8:11

You are correct. Business unions and public employee unions address different issues, but the basic premise of protecting employees interests is a shared attribute.

The capricious decisions (a very appropriate description,) frequently made by politicians do affect public employees more quickly, and directly, than those in the private sector. Fallout from these capricious, often blatantly, self serving actions do eventually spread to the private sector in one way or another.

Workers, private or public, are viewed as pawns by those in leadership positions. In a perfect world, there would be no need for unions and government regulation to protect workers.

We don't live in anything approaching perfect, with greed and a total lack of empathy guiding many of those in power.

What is so funny, is I have seen many of those once advocating social equality and workers rights drastically shift gears once they find themselves in power. They totally forget the concepts they once embraced.

I guess it it true about power corrupting.

By: teacherfriend on 2/18/12 at 8:32

In MNPS - teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc feel like they are treated as commodities. If one leaves they can just get another. If someone complains - i.e., a custodian who has been repeatedly denied health insurance; they can get someone else to do the job. The culture of fear and repression started under Garcia has not been removed under Register; it only has his smiley face on it now.

By: Ask01 on 2/18/12 at 3:15

Which illustrates very clearly why the culture of fear needs to be dismantled. How can an atmosphere conducive to learning be established when those responsible are not treated fairly?

Teachers have the primary contact with students, but the other employees listed by teacherfriend, though they have limited contact, also exert influence on students. It behooves society to ensure anyone involved in the educational system is dealy with fairly and equitably.

Perhaps MNPS should sponsor one day a year when parents would be expected to come in and, giving the regular employees a paid holiday, show their appreciation by running the school.

I wonder how many parents would jump enthusiasticly at the opportunity to spend a day with their off spring and those of others, taking on the roles of teachers, custodians, food aervice and the like?

Not many, I'm willing to bet.

By: Rasputin72 on 2/19/12 at 7:32

I have tried with some success to insulate my grandsons on the coming economic collapse of this country. They are the product of private schools and private universities and family connections for job entry. They still cling to hope for this country which is all part of youthful idealism. I asked them to read these comments last evening. I wanted them to see how mainstream voting America viewed the world. Their comments to me were "Do you possibly think that these people vote?"

I said "You betcha they do." They elected Barack Hussein Obama and they will re-elect him again with 54% of the vote.

You boys will soon be a minority group in this country and all your efforts will go to supply food shelter and medical care for these people. Most of whom have no idea how the world works or why they cannot live like their grandparents.

By: teacherfriend on 2/19/12 at 12:21

Not sure about who your generalizations were pointed to - but I have voted republican all my life, beginning with Ronald Reagan.

By: Ask01 on 2/19/12 at 3:03

The problem, as I see it, is the middle class has predominantly voted Republican and supported capitalism. The same middle class now bearing the brunt of the economic woes in this nations. Many are now former middle class, many more are in danger of slipping from that class.

When middle class workers see companies close, and workers idled to save money, then read of corporations posting record profits and senior executives being awarded bonuses which could have kept score of workers on the job, a potentially explosive situation begins to take shape.

Note we are not talking about the perenially poor. They will continue to thrive as always. The 'revolt' will come from the displaced middle class who have lost and stand to lose much. They are not illiterate, being fully capable of realizing the claims corporations create jobs are untrue, since so many are unemployed. Citizens can also reason that just because the unemplyment rate drops or new jobless claims are down, this is no indication the economy is improving. They realize that people are losing benefits because their eligibility has run out, and fewer people are making new claims because there are fewer to lay off.

If corporate America, the business community, and the wealthy truly fear President Obama's re-election, they need to shake loose money and create jobs. The alternative will be, as it has always been, the people will turn to whomever they believe will offer the best help in reversing their plight.

I know, I am far from topic, but I cannot stress my point strongly enough. President Obama will be re-elected and many Republicans removed from office if the perception does not change that corporate America, backed by the Republican party are strangling the middle class.

They will have only themselves to blame if they allow the Democrats to take total control of the nation.