Strike imminent for delivery truck drivers with Seattle Public Schools

Seattle — Seattle school buses could be slowed or stopped by a Teamsters strike if mediation fails between the union and the school district.

Fifteen truck drivers who make deliveries for the district say work with a state mediator Tuesday has failed to find agreement on a new contract and resolve outstanding issues.

Members of Teamsters Local 174, the union that represents the drivers, have authorized a strike, which means one can be called at any time. The union says it is informing the public about this situation due to the potential for disruption to students attending school in the district. They say if a strike happens, First Student school bus drivers would have the right to refuse to cross the picket line.

The main sticking point, according to the union, is the district’s refusal to value the work their employees perform, “work that has proven to be dangerous, as the workgroup of 15 truck drivers has already experienced two COVID-19 outbreaks.” The group has continued to work throughout the pandemic.

“Enough is enough — it’s time for the Seattle School District to get serious about showing they appreciate the hardworking Teamsters who risk their health day after day to take care of Seattle schoolchildren,” said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “The current log jam could be easily rectified if management demonstrated to our members that they value the work they perform. It would be a major inconvenience to the families of the Seattle School District if they force us to take this fight to the street in the form of a work stoppage. I hope it does not come to that, but our members are not going to back down and settle for less than they deserve.”

Seattle Public Schools says it has been bargaining in good faith with the Teamsters and are “negotiating a new contract for 15 drivers.” There’s another meditation session scheduled for next week.

“We value our staff and are committed to continuing to engage in mediation to arrive at a positive outcome for students, staff, and families,” the district media relations specialist told KIRO Radio.

This story was originally published by MYNorthwest. The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.