Tacoma special needs bus drivers (mostly) return to work

Nov 1, 2018, 12:53 PM | Updated: 4:34 pm
charter schools...
(AP photo)
(AP photo)

After calling out sick for three days, bus drivers for special needs children returned to work Thursday.

RELATED: Tacoma school bus drivers stealing your money with ‘sick-out’

Nearly two-dozen special needs bus drivers called out sick on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, in protest of low pay and long hours. Just four called out on Thursday, largely ending a protest that affected roughly 350 students.

“We were nearly back to normal today — we are essentially running our normal routes with about four routes with slight delays,” Tacoma School District spokesperson Dan Voelpel told KIRO Radio.

Voelpel also noted that drivers got a raise this fall that was “greater than the negotiated agreement.”

The “sick-out” held by these bus drivers occurred without the support of their union, with a representative telling KIRO 7’s Rob Munoz that it was “not involved, nor does it condone any coordinated, unauthorized work stoppage.”

Bus drivers argued that the long hours they work put both them and the students they drive in danger.

“We are putting our students at risk driving the way we are — fatigued, overworked, driving too fast trying to get to school because we’re tired of getting yelled at by the teachers,” they told KIRO Radio on Monday.

“We can go to work in the Tacoma school district and deliver papers and file cabinets and be paid more than driving these special needs children,” an unnamed bus driver added.

The current contract they operate under runs through 2020.

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Tacoma special needs bus drivers (mostly) return to work