Bus drivers on GPS plan: Get lost!
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Bus drivers on GPS plan: Get lost!

Boston Herald | November 9 2004

The head of the school bus drivers union yesterday vowed labor unrest if the city installs GPS tracking devices on its vehicles.

Dismissing arguments that the devices would improve safety, union president Steven Gillis blasted City Councilor John M. Tobin for raising the idea.

``We would consider it, as does the Greater Boston Labor Council and labor in general, as an extreme affront to collective bargaining,'' said Gillis. ``It could very well provoke a labor action in the city of Boston.''

Gillis' comments came during a heated hearing yesterday that didn't end until another union official was led away by City Hall security after going nose-to-nose in a shouting match with Councilor Maureen Feeney.

Tobin, chairman of the council's education committee, held a hearing to explore installing Global Positioning System devices on the city's nearly 720 buses. The Boston Public Schools and its bus contractor, First Student, raised and then dropped the issue in contract talks. Rank-and-file drivers, part of United Steelworkers of America Local 8751, ratified the contract last week, but the union still must approve it.

The devices would track the route of buses to eliminate late or missing buses, cut down on speeding and help create more efficient routes.

Gillis called the GPS devices ``the kind of Big Brother devices that are coming out of the Bush-Ashcroft administration.'' He also fears the devices will be used to cut drivers' pay.

The City Council can't order the devices installed, but it's an idea Boston Public Schools supports. Richard Jacobs, BPS director of transportation, said the system would cost between $200,000 to $300,000 a year


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