Nine thousand students who attend Hartford Public Schools have no bus service today because the DATTCO school bus drivers’ union has called for a one-day work stoppage for the day.
Thirty drivers have been picketing this morning after nine months of unsuccessful negotiations.
They are looking for the same benefits they say other drivers in the company have, including a 401K, paid time off, better benefits and an increase in hours from 20 a week to 25 or 30.
“It’s been nerve-racking. It’s been months. We’ve been doing this for about seven, eight, maybe nine, months now and it’s getting really frustrating. So we want them to see that we’re serious and that we really need this contract. We need it now,” Stacy-Ann Barrett, a school bus driver, said.
“We are disappointed that this bus provider and its bus drivers have been unable to reach an agreement to avoid this unnecessary interruption of transportation services,” Supt. Beth Schiavino Narvaez said in a statement on Monday.
According to DATTCO, the company reached an agreement with the union in April, but just learned that the drivers rejected the agreement.
DATTCO released a statement on Tuesday.
“The actions of Local CSEA/SEIU 2001 in calling a one day work stoppage today in Hartford were unfortunate and regrettable. Despite months of bargaining and the reaching of a tentative agreement, union leadership sought to place their own needs above those of our employees, the children and parents of the Hartford Public Schools, and the City of Hartford as a whole," Cliff Gibson, chief operating officer of DATTCO, said in a statement. "DATTCO has continued to come to the table, offering increases in the existing labor agreement, including wages well above industry average. In an environment where many are receiving cuts, or even job loss, the type of stance taken by union leadership seems untimely and uncaring to those who most need their employment. DATTCO will continue to bargain in good faith, and has solicited the help of the Federal Mediator in this regard. We look forward to reaching an agreement when the next bargaining session is held. “
Students who are not able to attend school today because of the lack of DATTCO bus services will be fully excused from class for an absence, according to the school system.
Suburban magnet school students and special education students won’t be impacted by this stoppage, according to school officials. Transportation for suburban magnet school students and special education students will proceed under normal operating hours.
Hartford public schools officials said DATTCO's bus service is scheduled to resume normal operations by Wednesday.
More negotiations are scheduled for later this week.