Teamster bus drivers and monitors at Durham School Services in Santa Rosa County voted overwhelmingly, 85-1, in favor of their first agreement with the company.

The agreement was reached Oct. 8.

The workers had decided to form a union with the Teamsters in February 2013 but Durham didn't accept the certification until this month. 

Durham fought the certification but lost every appeal with the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency charged with overseeing U.S. labor laws, according to a press release from the Teamsters.

The NLRB sued the company for violating federal labor law, and in June 2016, Durham was forced to recognize the workers' choice to form a union, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled in favor of the NLRB. The court ordered Durham to recognize the union election results and bargain with the workers.

“This is truly a remarkable day but it’s unfortunate it took us more than three years and a ruling from the second-highest court in the U.S. to get here,” said Jim Gookins, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 991 in Mobile, Alabama. “I credit the resolve of school bus drivers and monitors for Santa Rosa who stood together through all the appeals to make sure their voices would be heard."

“This contract means a major improvement in quality of life for me and my family,” said Kim McLaughlin, a 9-year driver at Durham and a bus driver for more than 20 years.

This agreement contains an average wage increase of 20 percent for drivers, adds four paid holidays by the third year of the contract, a ratification bonus and commits the company to 75 percent coverage for healthcare costs for members and their families. The contract will take effect immediately and expires on July 31, 2019.