Providence Bus Strike: 18 Who Made a Difference in 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018


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Providence School Bus Strike lasted for weeks

It certainly made the difference in a lot of families lives — and not for the better. 

The battle between the bus drivers represented by the Teamsters Local 251 and bus company First Student reached a head in September when labor negotiations reached an impasse, and the drivers voted to strike. 

On the first day of the strike, a 13-year-old girl — who normally took the bus — was hit while riding one of the rental “Jump” bikes available across the city to school; a mom, who had recently suffered a stroke, pleaded with leaders to end the bus strike as she was forced to take a city bus to take her children to school. 

The strike, which lasted weeks, culminated in a fire at the First Student bus yard which saw hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, before the bus drivers approved a deal to end the strike in mid-October — but not before Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza invoked his “political and moral authority” to call an end to the strike — and the ACLU of Rhode Island took legal action on behalf of students with disabilities impacted by the strike. 

“They tell people that they'll reimburse parents and that is enough, but they don't consider the fact that there are very few handicapped-accessible cabs in Providence,” said one parent of a special needs student. “And they're generally already all booked in the hours leading up to school, we've called them in the past for rides and they've told us those times are all booked up.”

Hopefully, lessons were learned during the 2018 bus strike, as students, parents, and educators should never be pawns in a labor struggle.  Rhode Islanders deserve better. 


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