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February 27, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Seattle school-bus drivers reach agreement with private contractor

After a daylong negotiation, the union representing about 450 bus drivers for Seattle Public Schools has reached a fully recommended tentative settlement with First Student, a private contractor that provides busing for the district. The agreement means that bus service will continue uninterrupted.

Details of the agreement won’t be released until the full membership can set up a meeting to vote on the agreement, said Michael Gonzales, a spokesman for Teamsters Local 174 in Tukwila.

The meeting lasted all day, and the two sides came to an agreement shortly after 9 p.m.,  Gonzales said.

The union had said previously that it was preparing to strike against First Student after negotiators failed to resolve disputes over sick leave and health care when the two sides last met on Feb. 7.

“We are happy to reach what we believe is a fair settlement,” Gonzales said.

First Student provides busing for nearly 28,000 students who attend Seattle Public Schools. The district is in the second year of a three-year contract it awarded to First Student in April 2012, worth about $26 million a year, according to district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has a national contract with First Student covering certain working terms and conditions, but drivers can negotiate subcontracts tailored to local school districts.

The union said the health plan offered by First Student was too expensive. An individual health plan would cost drivers 18 percent of their income, Gonzales said, and family plans would cost 52 percent of total pay.

First Student also offered two sick-leave days a year and asked members to waive their rights to more generous sick-leave provisions in the city of Seattle’s Paid Sick Time and Safe Time ordinance, which took effect Sept. 1, 2012. The union questioned whether such a waiver would be legal, Gonzales said.

0 Comments | More in Business/Technology, Education, Traffic & Transit | Topics: Seattle Public Schools, Teamsters

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