Parents of Seattle Public Schools students will need to find alternative transportation options starting later this week if their child rides the school bus, after Teamsters Local 174 announced its drivers will take to the picket lines starting Thursday.
The union says the strike, "will last until a deal is reached with First Student," as opposed to a one-day walkout in November. The two sides have been negotiating since last summer over healthcare and retirement benefits, but have made seemingly little progress, with the drivers rejecting a proposal in January by a margin of 85 percent.
“85% is not a fluke," said First Student driver Star Lucas in a press release announcing the strike. " It’s not a statistical error. It’s a strong statement to First Student that their proposal wasn’t good enough and they would need to bring more."
At that time, First Student said in a statement it was, "surprised and disappointed," its offer was not accepted, and that the company's goal was to reach an agreement that was, "fair and equitable to all parties."
The latest proposal to drivers was little different than the one that was rejected earlier this month, the union says.
Students who miss class due to the strike will not be granted an excused absence, and families are encouraged to make alternate plans, including carpools, walking school buses with neighbors, or — for older students — taking public transportation. Parents who cannot get their children to school are asked to notify their school, and missed classwork, homework, and tests may be made up at the discretion of each teacher.
Athletic events will go on as scheduled with the use of charter buses, but all field trips will be canceled.