GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Kent County Circuit Court has upheld an arbitrator's decision that Grand Rapids Public Schools did not violate a labor contract when it privatized transportation workers in 2005, even though their contract with the district had not expired, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

District leaders said that the court ruled that arbitrator Paul Glendon acted within the scope of his authority after a review of relevant information, The Press reported.

The board hired Dean Transportation in 2005 to operate district buses for five years, concurrently privatizing 225 jobs, according to The Press. Since then the district, the company and the Grand Rapids Education Support Personnel Association, the union which represents the drivers, have been involved in a series of legal disputes, The Press reported. GRESPA is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

The MEA filed suit against Dean in 2007, alleging that the company interfered with the union's contract; Dean settled that case for $600,000, The Press reported. Early in 2009, a U.S. Appeals Court upheld a National Labor Relations Board ruling which found that the drivers were improperly forced to join Dean's employee union rather than retain GRESPA representation.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Court backs Grand Rapids Public Schools board in challenge to bus driver privatization," March 5, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Defeating Privatization: The MEA's Legal Strategies," July 5, 2007

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