School Buses Will Roll

Thomas MacMillan Photo(Updated) Leaders of the school bus drivers’ union came to a tentative agreement Tuesday on a new contract with their employer, First Student, Inc., ending the possibility of another strike this week.

The pact was reached Tuesday afternoon between First Student and the leaders of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, which represents drivers who shuttle the city’s 18,000 students to school, according to First Student spokeswoman Maureen Richmond.

The deal still needs to be ratified by union members. The ratification vote should take place “sometime next week,” according to union spokesman Ben Phillips.

Phillips said the union negotiating team made a “nearly unanimous” decision to send the agreement to the full union membership for ratification.

Meanwhile, buses will roll on schedule Wednesday and for the rest of the week, according to schools spokeswoman Abbe Smith.

The agreement offers a resolution to stormy relations that threw the school transit system into flux last Thursday, when bus drivers declared an impromptu strike after dropping kids off at school. After tense negotiations, the drivers agreed to pick kids up at the end of the day, ending the strike—click here to read all about it.

Local 2001’s Phillips said the new pact addresses “a number of issues,” including wages and health insurance.

“They were difficult negotiations, but both sides were able to negotiate in good faith,” he said.

First Student’s Richmond declined to comment on the details of the pact prior to the ratification vote.

“I applaud both sides for putting children first and working together to reach a deal that protects kids and is fair to both bus drivers and First Student,” said schools Superintendent Reggie Mayo in a statement. He thanked Teddi Barra, the system’s transportation director, for her role in mediating the conflict.

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