To Vitaliy Pristupa, an immigrant from the Ukraine looking for a job, it seemed like a reasonable deal at the time. A private school bus company would train Vitaliy so he could receive a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) at no cost, in exchange for Vitaliy’s promise to work for the company for a year.

A few months into the new job, Vitaliy had the chance to take additional commercial drivers’ training on his own to upgrade his license. He asked his supervisor if he could work as a substitute bus driver while this training was going on and his boss approved the arrangement. When the training was done, Vitaliy was ready to go back to his regular shift, but his supervisor told him there was no work at the time and that he should check back later.

Vitaliy called several times over the next few months and was repeatedly given excuses for why he couldn’t work. His boss was busy . . . there’s no work . . .the company has been sold.
Then Vitaliy got a letter from a collection agency demanding he pay $500 in a debt to the school bus company for the CDL training. He called the school bus company and was told not to worry. After getting another letter and a phone call from the collection agency – he became very worried.

So Vitaliy called the Workers Rights Hotline. He doesn’t understand what is going on. He wants either to work off his debt or have the debt forgiven. It was a reasonable request.
The Hotline volunteers arranged for a group of Workers’ Center activists to visit the bus company. One of these supporters was Rev. Marcheta Townsend.

Marcheta explained, “I got involved because I think it’s important to help others, especially those folks who are new to our country and who may find it more difficult to maneuver in our culture.”

Marcheta and a couple of other volunteers spoke with representatives with the bus company. The Hotline crew explained that Vitaliy needed to either be re-employed or to have this debt forgiven. The visit – and a number of phone calls by Hotline volunteer, Dawn Stanger – paid off. Eventually the debt was forgiven and the Pristupas are free of the collection agency.

“I think the Workers Center is very good,” Vitaliy’s wife, Lidiya, said. “We didn’t know who to talk to, but someone told us to call the Hotline. We were just hoping someone could help. It’s good not to worry anymore.”