Union Threatens ARA Boycott On Eighth Day of Bus Strike

Boston's school bus drivers--on strike since October 9--Sunday announced a national boycott of ARA Services, Inc., saying the bus company has "come to Boston to rip off the communities and workers."

The 500 members of Local 8751 walked off their jobs in a wildcat strike against the company, which transports 27,500 city school students. The union is demanding safety checks on the buses and the fair negotiation of contract grievances.

ARA and Local 8751 held negotiations Sunday night, but they broke off without making progress.

ARA has hired non-union substitute drivers and union drivers to drive the students to school. Kara Speltz, a union spokesman, questioned the capabilities of people who "are willing to drive unsafe buses."

She added that they have not filled out a personal history or taken the necessary physical examination," so they are actually illegally driving our Boston children to school."

Harry R. Belinger, an ARA official, said the union's allegations are "absolutely ridiculous," adding that ARA has acquired 300 new buses--all of which have been inspected within the last month. He said the substitute drivers are well trained and properly licensed.

Despite an October 9 U.S. District Court ruling that called the strike illegal and ordered the bus drivers back to work the next day, the drivers have been on strike eight working days.