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Seattle school bus driver union on strike

UPDATE 2/9/2018: A tentative agreement has been reached in the strike:

After meeting with a federal mediator, Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks and First Student Senior Director Kim Mingo released the following statement regarding transportation for Seattle Public Schools:

“We are pleased to announce that First Student and Teamsters Local 174 leadership have come to terms on a fully-recommended tentative agreement.

We are confident that this contract will be ratified by union membership. The vote will take place tomorrowSaturday, February 10 at 10:00AM. Upon ratification, yellow bus service will resume on Monday.

The agreement provides an expanded benefits package and comprehensive health care coverage for our Seattle Public Schools yellow bus drivers and families. We feel strongly that this deal meets the goals set by all parties in these negotiations.

First Student labor negotiators and Local 174 leaders have maintained open lines of communication throughout this process. Though this tentative agreement took longer than we had hoped, what brings us all together is our shared commitment to provide safe and reliable transportation for Seattle Public Schools students and families.”

Original Report 2/1/2018:

(Image: Teamsters Local 174)

Barring an overnight breakthrough, the more than 400 bus drivers from Teamsters Local 174 will go on strike beginning Thursday morning against what the union says are unfair labor practices at First Student, the company contracted to provide “yellow bus” service for the thousands of kids in Seattle Public Schools.

“Teamsters Local 174 does not typically announce strikes in advance; however, the Union and its members wished to give Seattle parents adequate notice to make arrangements for their children,” the union said in its announcement.

The inability to agree on a deal over health care and retirement benefits led the drivers to hold a one-day strike in November.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant called on people to “join Seattle’s school bus drivers on the picket line” while Seattle City Council members Teresa Mosqueda, Rob Johnson, and Lorena González issued a join statement:

The people who safely transport our kiddos in Seattle to public schools deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. This must begin with a decent contract with First Student. We stand in solidarity with Teamsters Local 174 in their pursuit of health care benefits and retirement plans for Seattle school bus drivers that reflect our values as a city. When public dollars go to contract businesses, it is imperative that we ensure we are taking care of the people who take care of our kiddos and this means a higher standard for wages and benefits. We applaud the efforts of Local 174 to bring First Student up to par.

The council members also provided some transportation advice for parents:

  • Metro bus routes serve all public schools in Seattle. Click here to find which route will work best for you.
  • Consider participating in a Walking School Bus or Bike Train (a group of children walking or biking to school with one or more adults picking up students along the way). Contact Yvonne Carpenter with the Seattle School District for more information at ylcarpenter@seattleschools.org.
  • Contact your PTSA for other local school-specific plans.

“We know this means some extra planning for parents,” they write.

While many public schools in Seattle function as “neighborhood schools” where kids live within walking distance, many of the district’s special programs for students are based at specific schools across the city.

SPS families, meanwhile, may see more labor issues ahead. In 2015, the teachers union held its first strike in Seattle in 30 years before pounding out a new deal. Now, the clock is ticking on that deal with new contract negotiations with the union looming.


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