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John Batchelor

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Seattle children are the victims in bus driver strike

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Hundreds of Seattle school bus drivers participated in a one-day strike Wednesday as a way to convince their contractor to provide better health care services.

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A director with the Washington Policy Center is accusing the bus drivers of using children as props.

“The reality is 12,000 children do not have their buses to go to school today,” Washington Policy Center Director for the Center of Education Liv Finne told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “Families that work and have many children in the schools are being grossly disadvantaged because of some game that is being played by a group of union leaders.”

Jaimie Fleming with Teamsters Local 174 explained that bus drivers contracted through First Student are dissatisfied with a change to their health care policy.

Finne argues workers negotiate these kinds of disputes without striking all the time, and this situation shouldn’t be any different.

“They’re using children as pawns in a contract dispute,” Finne said. “This is not necessary in this day and age. There are contract negotiations conducted by adults every day without hurting children.”

Finne’s organization, the Washington Policy Center, describes itself as an “independent, non-profit, think tank that promotes sound public policy based on free-market solutions,” but the think tank regularly advocates for conservative causes.

Fleming also explained they attempted to give parents a warning about the strike so they could make arrangements ahead of time, even though the surprise of a strike is part of its power.

Finne considers this line of thinking disingenuous.

“They have a no-strike clause in their contract, they promised not to strike,” Finne said, “and now they’re playing this game about having given families enough notice.”

The strike is only supposed to last one day, but it could be extended if a deal isn’t reached. This morning KIRO 7 reported negotiations haven’t gone anywhere.

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