Hartford Bus Strike Leaves 9,000 Students Stranded

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

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Hartford, Conn. bus drivers impacted 9,000 students Tuesday when they went on a one-day strike over a contract dispute.

DATTCO provides school bus services for many towns across New England and has been in negotiations with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2001 for a new contract. Bus drivers went on strike for fair schedules and wages a week after rejecting a proposed contract from the company.

“What’s at issue right now is that these drivers have had their hours cut repeatedly over the last few years to the point where many of them are struggling to make ends meet,” Local 2001 Spokesman Ben Phillips told the local Fox News affiliate. “Hopefully [the strike] will encourage them to make some movement toward the kind of agreement that we need.”

DATTCO services about 9,000 of the roughly 21,000 students currently enrolled in Hartford Public Schools. School officials will excuse students impacted by the strike but decided against cancelling classes altogether. Bus service is expected to resume for all students Wednesday.

“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,” superintendent Beth Schiavino Narvaez said in a statement.

Drivers rejected the last proposed contract because they want better sick pay, hours, wages and a retirement plan, reports the Hartford Courant. DATTCO Chief Operating Officer Cliff Gibson argues the union is simply putting its own needs ahead of its employees and the school district.

“The actions of Local CSEA/SEIU 2001 in calling a one day work stoppage today in Hartford were unfortunate and regrettable,” Gibson said in a statement, according to the local affiliate of NBC News. “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.”

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