Seattle School District Fines Would Help Resolve Strike Quickly
February 6, 2018
On October 31, 2017, Seattle Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Operations Pegi McEvoy sent a letter to First Student making it clear that in the event a labor dispute caused First Student to miss bus routes, Seattle Public Schools would be fining them to the maximum extent allowed under their contract – a potential cost of $1.2 million per day. Teamsters Local 174 now calls on Seattle Public Schools to follow through on that promise.
Approximately 400 yellow school bus drivers for the Seattle School District walked off the job in an Unfair Labor Practice strike last Thursday – a strike that is expected to last until First Student resolves the Unfair Labor Practices that led to the strike and presents the school bus drivers with a proposal that addresses their most basic needs: affordable healthcare for them and their families, and some form of retirement security. As this strike goes into its fourth day, Seattle Public Schools has a responsibility to the taxpayers of Seattle and the families impacted by this strike to do what they can to help it end quickly. The most effective way for them to accomplish this goal is to do what they said they would do, and fine First Student the maximum amount allowed in their contract.
The strikers on the picket lines have received an outpouring of support from the Seattle community, including deliveries of coffee and doughnuts, portable propane heaters, and visits from Seattle City Council members Teresa Mosqueda, Kshama Sawant, and Lisa Herbold, and King County Council member Rod Dembowski. Messages from the parents of children at Seattle schools are overwhelmingly ones of support and encouragement, including a packet of handwritten letters from schoolchildren delivered to striking bus drivers.
“At this point, it should be clear to almost everyone that First Student is on the wrong side of this issue,” said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “Seattle Public Schools now needs to join the growing list of supporters of these striking workers by fining First Student for every missed route. The more pressure First Student faces, the more quickly this strike can be over and life can go back to normal for everyone involved. And for these bus drivers, we hope for a new normal where they can afford healthcare coverage for themselves and their families, and have a chance at retirement once their careers reach an end. None of us should hope for less than that.”
Meanwhile, First Student continues to incessantly text and call the Teamster drivers, begging them to cross the picket lines and come back to work. They have been attempting to bribe drivers, and yesterday they doubled that bribe to entice drivers to give up on their fight. These efforts have been unsuccessful, with the number of drivers crossing the picket lines actually falling with each additional day the drivers spend on strike.
“First Student is desperate. They underestimated their employees’ resolve. Now, it is up to the Seattle School District to help end this strike by using their enormous leverage to encourage First Student to do the right thing,” Hicks concluded.
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.