Barb Ward has been driving a bus for Fairland Local Schools for nearly 40 years — logging more than a million miles behind the wheel. Her mother, the first woman bus driver at Fairland, taught her how to drive along the winding, narrow roads of Southern Ohio. And Barb taught her daughter and union sister, Jennifer, how to handle a bus in all kinds of weather and road conditions.
Barb has been a proud member of Local 345 since she joined the Fairland team, and urges every new member to sign a union card.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be a member and have a voice in what happens to you everyday at work? I would never quit my union because my union has never quit me,” Barb said.
“The union is my family. The union raised my family. I would never consider dropping out of my union.”
Barb said her strong union-negotiated contract has made a real difference in her life. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her health care coverage meant she could receive her chemotherapy and radiation treatments and take time to recuperate at home.
“And when I was well enough to get back to work, my job was there waiting for me because of our contract. I can’t even express what a comfort that was — to have that security as I was going through the biggest fight of my life.”
Barb drives over 250 miles across three counties each day to safely transport “her kids” to school and back home. Her students have special needs, and they rely on the comfort and security that comes from being with Barb each day.
“I call them my special kids because each of them is special. We have a bond that’s very important to each of us. They like knowing that I will be there to get them every day, and I think that gives their parents comfort and security. They like knowing they can count on me to take good care of their children.”
Barb’s security comes from being a member of Local 345.
“I like having a voice. I like having a say in my wages and benefits and working conditions. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and that’s what I tell new hires: Join the union! Stick with the union! It makes a difference!”