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Seattle school bus drivers reach benefits deal to end strike

(Image: CHS)

The full fleet of yellow buses carrying Seattle Public Schools kids is back on the roads Monday morning after drivers approved a new contract over the weekend.

“We are very pleased that First Student yellow bus drivers have voted to ratify the expanded benefits program included within their contract,” lead negotiator Kim Mingo for First Student, the company that contracts with SPS to deliver the system’s students across the city, said in a statement.

A tentative agreement on an expanded benefits package and better health care coverage was reached Friday between First Student and Teamsters Local 174, the union representing some 400 drivers.

Some drivers chose to cross the picket lines. During the strike that started February 1st, families of students who regularly bus faced uncertain schedules and sometimes dizzying numbers of alerts and updates as routes were scheduled or canceled. Many families opted to utilize King County Metro routes during the strike.

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 in support of the striking drivers.

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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