Seattle school bus drivers reach contract, strike avoided

Jun 13, 2023, 1:00 PM

seattle school bus contract...

Bus drivers and mechanics agree on a deal that will avoid a strike. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The threat of a Seattle school bus strike is gone after the union representing many of the drivers and mechanics for the Seattle School District (SSD) signed a new contract.

Zūm school bus drivers and mechanics overwhelmingly ratified their first contract as members of Teamsters Local 174, which members voted by 97% to ratify Saturday, June 10.

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“It was crucial that this group win a strong contract to protect the school bus industry standard in Seattle, and these brand-new Teamsters’ solidarity and strength accomplished that goal,” Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks said. “Zūm seems to generally be a good employer, but new equipment and a nice breakroom do not make up for underpaid employees with insufficient benefits.”

The group of 150 members had voted to authorize a strike two weeks ago.

This new contract means that Seattle School District (SSD) yellow bus service will be provided exclusively by Teamster members working at Zūm and First Student, the other company that employs bus drivers for the city.

SSD bus service had been performed by First Student as the sole provider until the 2022-2023 school year when the district awarded half the routes to California-based Zūm.

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The contract includes key union requests, including meaningful wage increases, improved medical coverage, union retirement, paid holidays, and grievance procedure.

One big sticking point for the union was the ability to honor other union’s picket lines, and new language in the contract protects the workers ability to do so.

“Thankfully, after the Company was forced to realize their workers were willing to go on strike for a first contract, Zūm management stepped up to the plate and agreed to a contract our members were proud to vote for,” Hicks said. “This agreement is a victory for all involved and will continue to improve the lives of the people responsible for transporting our most precious cargo – our children.”

The contract lasts through August 31, 2026.

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