Greyhound Running Express Service in Texas With Americanos Drivers

On Good Friday, dozens of ATU Local 1700 members leafleted passengers at Greyhound terminals in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The April 6 informational picketlines were a response to a company “bait and switch” scheme to operate Greyhound Express service across Texas with Americanos drivers.

In San Antonio, more than a dozen Local 1700 drivers picketed and passed out flyers to bus passengers. Union steward Patricia Wright said several riders thanked her and said they bought Greyhound tickets because of previous bad experiences with other bus lines. Wright understands their concerns; she and a co-worker cushioned home last Dec. 16 on an Americanos bus that crashed.

“We really didn’t want to ride that bus,” Wright said, “but we needed to get back to San Antonio quickly because the Board was busy. It kills me every time I think about it.”

A few years ago, Greyhound began marketing itself to white and “upscale” passengers, and launched or bought “Mexican” subsidiaries like Americanos for riders who cared mainly about getting the cheapest fare. Local 1700 fought this move into separate and unequal service since the company started down that long-discredited road.

Greyhound, however, didn’t foresee two developments that have reshaped inter-city bus travel. Taking the bus is an option again for millions of working Americans caught in the economic meltdown, and Wi-Fi has made long rides tolerable (even enjoyable) for commuters and college kids with laptops and iPads.

Now Greyhound wants to tap the more upscale market by “re-branding” some Texas service from Americanos to Greyhound Express. Riders think they are paying for Greyhound-level quality, but are really getting a bus painted like a Greyhound with “Operator: Americanos USA” in small letters and an Americanos driver.

Local 1700 drivers say they would welcome routes that never should have been taken away. But the company wants to have their cake and eat it, too: they want seasoned bilingual Local 1700 drivers, but instead of paying a bonus for the higher level of service, they want drivers to agree to an Americanos wage.

“I wish the company would have brought the Americanos drivers up to our salary level, instead of trying to force us down to their level,” said San Antonio picketer Wright.

Local 1700 President Bruce Hamilton said Greyhound is being dishonest with riders, and accused the company of violating federal law in a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board.

He said Greyhound’s treatment of bilingual drivers reflects the same discriminatory attitude as its marketing approach, and accused the company of using low wages at Americanos to create second-class drivers and provide second- class service for minority riders.

“Segmenting is nothing more than segregation warmed over,” Hamilton said. “It’s bad policy for employees and bad for the pubic we serve.”

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