Update on Seattle school bus strike:
A deal remains to be made between First Student — a yellow school bus provider — and its drivers union. Students in Seattle will remain without bus transportation Friday.
Seattle Public Schools is keeping parents updated on the strike by phone and email each night. It is not known how long the strike will last.
In the meantime, some bus routes are being covered for special needs students. Charter buses are slated for school athletic trips, but class field trips are being canceled.
For the second time this year, bus drivers have walked off the job, forcing approximately 12,000 Seattle students to find another way to get to school.
Unlike the union’s previous one-day strike in November 2017, it now says its drivers will not return until a deal is reached with their employer. Seattle school bus drivers will picket in front of First Student bus yards in Lake City and South Park.
According to the Teamsters Union Local 174:
Beginning Thursday morning, February 1, Teamsters Local 174 school bus drivers at First Student in Seattle will be on Unfair Labor Practice strike. The strike by the group of 400 First Student school bus drivers will likely impact all yellow bus service to the Seattle School District and will last until a deal is reached with First Student…
… First Student has not resolved any of the Unfair Labor Practices they had previously committed, including the unilateral implementation of the substandard healthcare plan.
First Student is a company contracted to provide bus service to Seattle Public Schools. It has failed to reach a contract agreement with its drivers, who are demanding better healthcare coverage and retirement benefits. The union recently rejected a contract offer from First Student by an 85 percent vote, prompting members to strike.
The union says it usually does not give warning when it plans to strike, but it wants parents to have adequate notice to make alternate transportation plans.
“This company has had every opportunity to do right by these drivers, and yet over and over again they have chosen the opposite approach,” Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks is quoted on the union’s website. “They have chosen to demonize their hardworking employees in the press in an attempt to turn the community against their fight, while at the same time coming back to the bargaining table with nothing of substance. We aren’t going to stand for that. These drivers are fighting a righteous battle for things many of us in Seattle take for granted: the right to get medical care for their families, and the right to retire with dignity. This is a fight they deserve to win.”