Bus drivers for Shelton Public Schools are threatening to go on strike if they cannot reach an agreement with their employer, Durham School Services.
The union representing the drivers and monitors, CSEA SEIU Local 2001, voted to authorize a strike on Wednesday. No date has been announced, but the drivers picketed at the bus yard on Friday.
The superintendent sent a letter to parents, warning them of the possible strike and warning them to come up with contingency plans on how they will get their children to school, as the district plans to continue having classes if a strike were to happen.
“We’re fortunate where we’re walkable to school but I know many parents don’t’ have that luxury and they have to get to work so it would be an inconvenience for them,” Anne Gaydos, the mother of an elementary school student, said.
Durham took over managing the bus services for Shelton last year. The city of Shelton owns the buses and Durham leases them. The drivers’ wages and benefits had already been negotiated with the previous bus company, Landmark Student Transportation.
“Durham came in and did tell everybody that was there [at a mandatory meeting], that they [Durham] would be honoring our contract, they just needed to change some wording. We all [the drivers] have stuck by, showing up every day and making sure we get our jobs accomplished. We haven’t had any fair negotiations at all,” Angela DiMauro, a bus driver from Shelton, said.
The union communications director, Ben Phillips, said the bus drivers hope they do not have to strike and can come to an agreement with Durham. But they are prepared to strike if they cannot reach an agreement soon because the drivers have families they need to support.
“We care about the kids, the families and making sure that kids get to school safe. Drivers and monitors, they have families as well. We need to make sure we have what we need to take care of them,” said Ben Phillips, the communications director for CSEA SEIU Local 2001.
NBC Connecticut reached out to Durham School Services early Friday morning and is still waiting for a response.
The superintendent of schools in Shelton released a statement, urging parents to be prepared and have a plan.