A labor dispute between the Seattle Public School District's yellow bus service provider and the drivers' labor union will cause headaches for Seattle parents tomorrow.
Seattle Public Schools announced Tuesday afternoon that the district's yellow bus drivers will go on a one-day strike on Wednesday. All students who rely on the yellow bus service to and from school will need to take an alternate method of transportation on Wednesday. Bus service is expected to resume on Thursday.
The strike comes after weeks of negotiations between First Student, the company that provides bus service to local families, and the Teamsters who represent local yellow bus drivers. The district has been warning families that a strike could occur at any time throughout the negotiations.
Despite the strike, school will remain in session and the district's website states that a transportation strike is not grounds for an excused absence. Special education transportation services that do not utilize yellow buses will not be impacted by the strike and will be provided as usual. Field trips and activity buses that use yellow bus services will be canceled.
Kassandra Sprenke Bradberry lives in Magnolia. Her three kids attend elementary, middle and high schools in the Seattle School District, but only her middle-school daughter will be impacted by the strike. In anticipation of the strike, Bradberry says she's already called out of her volunteer job tomorrow. "We have three kids and one car," she says.
To help families deal with the strike, Bradberry says her daughter's middle school handed out bus passes yesterday. But Bradberry says her daughter would have to transfer buses and she's concerned about sending her alone. "I'm not sure about a sixth-grader taking city bus on her own with a big walk and transfer," Bradberry says.
She plans to walk her daughter through the route tomorrow in case the strike lasts longer than one day. "I'm happy that I have some flexibility to walk her through it tomorrow," she adds.
The district issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon: "We are deeply disappointed that negotiations between First Student and the union have resulted in a strike. Even a one-day work stoppage will be disruptive to the families of the 12,000 students who ride a First Student bus. Over the past six weeks, we have regularly updated our families who rely on First Student to be prepared for this type of action. But it will still be inconvenient for them. We continue to expect First Student and the Teamsters to reach agreement and provide certainty to our families.”
The Teamsters issued their own statement Tuesday: "The Unfair Labor Practice strike will protest First Student’s unilateral change and implementation of an inferior medical plan for its employees — an illegal action under the National Labor Relations Act, as healthcare is the subject of negotiations and cannot be changed without bargaining with the employees’ Union. Teamsters Local 174 does not typically announce strikes in advance; however, in this case, the Union and its members wished to give Seattle parents adequate notice to make arrangements for their children."
They emphasized that while tomorrow's strike will only last one day, they may call a longer strike if a deal isn't reached with First Student.
Ballard mom of four Karla Stanley says her kids will have to walk home from school tomorrow, but she fully supports the strike. "I believe they should get fair wages and health care," she says.
Editor's note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information comes in.