School Bus Drivers in Providence Reject Contract, Teamsters Poised to Strike

Friday, September 14, 2018

 

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Providence facing a school bus drivers strike.

As if Providence Schools could take another hit. On top of failing test scores, an ongoing battle between the Teacher's Union and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, and the recent murder of a 15-year-old in front of a Providence high school during the school day, now the school bus drivers are poised to strike.

In response to the vote of Teamsters Local 251 to reject a contract offer from the bus company First Student, the company's spokesman Frank McMahon issued the following statement:

First Student Statement

"First Student is disappointed that Teamsters Local 251 has voted against the very generous contract offer made to our Providence drivers.  The contract included increased 401(k) contributions; paying 80 percent -- increasing to 85 percent -- of medical premiums; and paid sick time beyond what is required by state law.

The offer also included immediate pay raises of up to 12 percent, with increases of up to 51 percent through the life of the contract. Experienced drivers would make almost $29 per hour in three years.

Unfortunately, Teamster Local 251 leadership continues to insist that our Providence employees be forced to join the New England Teamsters & Trucking Industry Pension Fund, which is currently underfunded by $3.6 billion with liabilities that have increased by $700 million in just the last two years.  The fund has been classified by the U.S. Treasury Department as being in “critical and declining” status due to its serious underfunding.  No First Student employee has ever participated in this underfunded plan and it is transparently obvious that the Teamsters negotiating demand is a desperate attempt to obtain new pension funding.

Our contract offer would allow for participation in either a First Student or Teamsters administered 401(k) plan.  While our offer supports responsible retirement options, we will not force our employees to participate in the seriously underfunded New England Teamsters & Trucking Industry Pension Fund.

We certainly understand that even one day without yellow bus transportation is a hardship for the families, students and schools that depend on us.  First Student remains committed to serving the Providence Public School District, and we stand ready to continue negotiations with Teamsters Local 251 representatives to avoid any disruption to student transportation service."

 

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