A FirstGroup bus in Glasgow Greyhound Workers: Profits, Executive Compensation Come Before Customers and Employees Aberdeen, Scotland –Profits and executive compensation come before customers and workers for FirstGroup and its CEO Tim O’Toole, Amal …
Greyhound Workers: Profits, Executive Compensation Come Before Customers and Employees
Aberdeen, Scotland –Profits and executive compensation come before customers and workers for FirstGroup and its CEO Tim O’Toole, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International Vice President Bruce Hamilton will tell shareholders at the First Group Annual General Meeting at 11:00 today, 16 July 2014.
“It is shameful that as FirstGroup celebrates Greyhound’s one hundred year anniversary, it pays terminal workers wages that buy less than they would have in 1914,” said Hamilton, a former Greyhound bus operator. “We have baggage handlers, ticket agents, custodians and others earning wages so low that they qualify for government assistance.”
“The £2 million elephant in the room, of course, is Tim O’Toole doubling his own pay,” Hamilton continued. “This absurd compensation is not just insulting to American and Canadian workers. O’Toole and his colleagues rewarded themselves tens of thousands of pounds in payouts at the same time that they hiked fares on riders here in the UK.”
The ATU is campaigning to raise the wages and improve the working conditions of terminal workers at Greyhound facilities across the United States and Canada. Greyhound is a North American subsidiary of FirstGroup; three thousand of its employees are represented by ATU Local 1700.
The union’s campaign is not limited to the shareholders meeting. On 11 July, Local 1700 members in Cincinnati, Ohio, rallied outside of FirstGroup’s U.S. Headquarters and at the local Greyhound terminal. Actions have also been held in Los Angeles, California, Atlanta, Georgia, and several other U.S. cities.
Local 1700 has linked FirstGroup’s underpayment of its majority African-American workforce to Greyhound’s ugly history of racial segregation, noting that “Discrimination has many forms, and one is income disparity.” ATU also shared a caricature of O’Toole as a “£2 million elephant” crushing a Greyhound bus.
“There is a growing movement in the United States to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. This is a terrific opportunity for FirstGroup and Tim O’Toole to extend an olive branch to the people that keep their company moving,” said Hamilton. “And at the end of the day, Greyhound cannot afford to be on the wrong side of history again.”
FirstGroup purchased Canadian and U.S. Greyhound properties in 2007. The company has repeatedly refused to negotiate a national contract for U.S. terminal workers and has refused to offer any wage increases to other workers represented by the union. Most have been without a pay raise for more than two years.
Hamilton noted that union contracts have been thrown out, wages drastically reduced and pension and other benefits eliminated. “ATU wants to return to the bargaining table, but the company refuses to set any dates,” he said. “If they think this is going to go away, they are wrong. Terminal workers deserve justice, and they are going to fight until they have it.”
Also attending the event will be Mac Urata, secretary of the inland transport sections of the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation), which is supporting the ATU’s campaign. He explained: “FirstGroup is a transport giant, with responsibilities to match, yet its management is utterly failing to live up to them. US employees of the company should have the same rights as their counterparts in the UK. Today’s AGM offers an opportunity to expose the complacency and selfishness running riot at the top of the company, and the ATU and its colleagues in the international union movement are using it to hold the company to account.”
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 253 local unions spread across 47 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.
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