Seattle school bus drivers go on one-day strike

By: Alison Grande

Updated:

SEATTLE - About 12,000 Seattle students will need to find an alternate way to get to school.

The 400 drivers contracted by First Student are on strike Wednesday, impacting bus service for students across Seattle Public Schools.

Some bus drivers crossed the picket line, then struggled getting buses out of the lot to pick up students as striking workers surrounded the vehicle.

The bus drivers’ union says their current negotiations haven't gone anywhere.

 

 

The contract itself has been settled, but they're arguing for more healthcare and benefits options.

On Tuesday, Teamsters Local 174 announced in advance a one-day strike held on November 29, 2017.

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The union says, "The Unfair Labor Practice strike will protest First Student’s unilateral change and implementation of an inferior medical plan for its employees – an illegal action under the National Labor Relations Act, as healthcare is the subject of negotiations and cannot be changed without bargaining with the employees’ Union."

Seattle Public Schools offers a 'Frequently Asked Questions' page on their website for parents over potential school bus disruptions. Click here to read more. 

Teamsters Local Union 174, which represents about 400 Seattle Public Schools' drivers, told us its members have the authorization to go on strike at a moment's notice.

While they and Seattle Public Schools’ subcontractor, First Student, have ratified a contract for pay and rights on the job, they say their members have no affordable healthcare or pension options afforded to other members in the district.

KIRO 7 reached out to First Student who provided the following statement: 

"We’re very disappointed Teamsters Local 174 leadership chose to disrupt transportation for children to and from Seattle schools tomorrow. We know what a hardship this interruption is to the families who rely on our service. 
 
Last year, we worked with Local 174 leadership on a new collective bargaining agreement. The agreement, which was ratified by union members in August 2016, included a significant wage increase of up to 20 percent, and a top wage of more than $24 an hour.  
 
Within the last two weeks, we offered Local 174 leadership additional funding for both healthcare and retirement. Union leadership chose not to present this offer to their membership.   
 
Both First Student and a federal mediator have reached out to Local 174 leadership in an effort to continue to negotiate in good faith. Those calls have not been returned. 
 
Our responsibility is to transport students to and from school each and every day. We regret that the actions of Local 174 leadership make this impossible tomorrow. 
 
We want to get back to doing what we do best as quickly as possible, and that is providing transportation for Seattle schools and our students and families.  
 
We strongly encourage the union to join us in finding a resolution. We remain ready and available to return to the negotiating table."  

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