Gray Panthers of San Francisco
March 2007 Newsletter

Healthcare Is Too Expensive For School Bus Drivers


This January, Laidlaw school bus drivers returned from the SF school system winter holidays only to find unbelievable increases in their health insurance premiums. One member was left with a $1.76 check after premiums were deducted. Others received a minus check, actually owing the company money! For a single employee, a monthly premium increase went from $18 to $155; an employee with one dependent got an increase from $29 to $345; employees on a family plan went from $35 to $455. Most school bus drivers make about $30,000 a year, and many are single parents. Laidlaw Transportation Company said they were only passing along the rate increases of Pacific Care, the insurance carrier. Laidlaw said increases were necessary because one employee had a very serious (read expensive) illness. After the initial shock, financial crisis workers organized food boxes and car pools for those who could not even put gas in their cars to get to work. Some drivers are seeking other jobs; some are forced to drop health care insurance in order to meet other life necessities.

These premiums are untenable and outrageous, and United Transportation Union Local 1741 members vow to fight this attack on the workers. Union members believe that this action is a violation of their union contract, and a grievance was filed against the company. Other union member actions included filing individual claims with PacifiCare, and with the State Department of Managed Care questioning the legality of these outrageous increases. In another surprise to workers, Laidlaw recently sold the company to First Student Company, well known for its union busting tactics against school bus drivers in Boston.

School bus drivers need our support. United Transportation Union Local 1741 has marched in many demonstrations against the war. Many members joined in the Immigrants Rights demonstrations last spring. UT Local 1741 is a small union taking on a health insurance behemoth. No one who believes that Health Care is Our Right can allow these insurance corporations to continue forcing people to choose between medical care and economic survival. Universal Single Payer health care is the only solution for quality health care for everyone.

See KPIX Flash video on school bus drivers' health crisis

Local 1741 website

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