Providence Teamsters Bus Drivers to Strike Thursday UPDATED

Saturday, September 22, 2018

 

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Matt Taibi, Teamsters Local 251

Matt Taibi, Principal Officer and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 251 on Friday afternoon set the strike date and said in a statement, "In consideration for the hardship for the children and parents involved with Providence Schools, as well as the request of the Mayor's office for advance notice, Teamsters Local 251 will strike First Student Providence the morning of Thursday, September 27th, if an agreement with First Student is not reached.”

The strike will impact thousands of Providence children and to date, the City of Providence has no alternative transportation plan for the families impacted.

"The Teamsters will continue to be ready, willing and able to meet any day at any time to avoid a work stoppage. If the company refuses to come back to the bargaining table, we are willing to meet at any time if they force the strike, said Taibi, “First Student must recognize the value of the bus drivers. Providence bus drivers are valuable members of this community, who safely transport our school children to and from school every day. Many Teamster drivers are parents as well, working a part-time job to support their families.”

Late on Friday, First Student issued a statement that said in part, "First Student stated, when the Teamster leadership walked out on the meeting, that First Student would remain available to meet at any time and at any place to avoid disruption to student bus transportation.  The Teamsters have provided no indication that they are as willing, ready and able to meet as Teamsters Local 251 leadership would lead you to believe."

Elorza Has No Plan for Alternative Transportation 

On Friday morning at a press conference, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza offered no plan for parents as to how their children or thousands of other Providence school children will be transported to and from Providence schools if, as presently planned, Providence School bus drivers strike.

Despite having known for months that there was a real chance that the Teamsters Local 251 would strike against the city’s bus company — First Student— Elorza told reporters that the City of Providence will be offering no replacement form of transportation.

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Elorza at press conference on Friday

He said that his administration reached out to ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber as well as to RIPTA, but none have an interest or capacity to provide replacement transportation services during the strike.

Teamsters Criticize First Student

"First Student is a highly profitable private corporation based in Scotland that derives a significant profit from the Providence area.  It is incredibly cynical of this multi-national company to pretend that they are concerned more for the community that the actual residents and their families who live in Rhode Island,” said Taibi.

The strike will have a significant impact on Providence Schools, attendance, and traffic in the city as thousands of parents will be forced to drive students to schools across the city.

"With First Student, retirement benefits are largely overlooked. Providence Teamsters deserve the ability to retire with dignity, as do all workers. First Student has publicly mischaracterized the retirement issue, and their stance in negotiations is a total affront to the desires of their employees.,” added Taibi.

“Good jobs benefit the overall Providence economy, helping families meet their daily needs and hopefully prosper. Providence drivers have helped set the standard for school bus drivers in the region. When bus drivers didn't have healthcare benefits, Providence Teamsters won healthcare. Over the years, healthcare benefits have significantly improved, and drivers want to continue that improvement. Providence drivers have raised the standard for guaranteed hours of pay, in consideration for working a split shift, and seek additional improvements,” said Taibi.

The story was first published at 5:56 PM on September 21, 2018.

 
 

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