Judgment Call

Posted on March 1, 2002
The assistant superintendent thinks it would raise the professionalism of the transportation department if the bus drivers were given standard uniforms to wear. However, a majority of the drivers would prefer to wear their own clothes. How would you handle this? Logistical problem All of my drivers are part time, so I would be hard-pressed to make them wear a uniform. Many have other part-time jobs, requiring them to change clothes in between routes. Who would supply the uniforms? I can’t believe that many schools have “extra money” for uniforms. I am happy with clean, non-advertising clothes (beer, smokes, etc.). Marty Hess Transportation Director Urbana (Ohio) School District Shirts are optional! Well, we do provide uniform shirts for our drivers, but they are not required to wear them. This was a big union issue a couple of years ago, and I was told that the only way we could require our drivers to wear the uniform shirts was if we paid for the cleaning/maintenance of the shirts! So, we purchased five shirts for each driver, initially, and then three shirts each year thereafter. I would prefer to require the wearing of the shirts because I feel it does look more professional and increases the sense of teamwork and belonging among the drivers. Neal Abramson Transportation Director Santa Monica-Malibu (Calif.) Unified School District We're almost there We recently went through that. Our driver committee often complained of dress code violations by a small number of drivers, which prompted me to bring the concept of uniforms to my bosses. They liked the professional image uniforms portrayed and were in favor of the concept. Of course, the district could provide uniforms and require all to wear them. This would have to be coordinated with the bargaining unit. In our case, I had some uniform vendors develop samples with custom embroidery. This gave drivers a sample to view and think about, plus it gave me a cost basis. The shirt was a knit polo-type shirt, which most felt was attractive. “Full-figured” drivers were reassured that we would provide the larger sizes. Then we prepared a formal poll for drivers to fill out, which included several options. About 60 percent of drivers and bus attendants completed the poll. I told them they would have a say in selection of color but to keep that issue separate from uniforms, I did not make that part of the poll. Result indicated that the majority was interested in a shirt, but there were mixed reviews regarding trousers and shorts. Unfortunately, we had to defer implementation because of budget restraints, but when we can, we will provide shirts for all drivers and bus attendants. John Farr Transportation Director Oceanside (Calif.) Unified School District
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