LOS ANGELES — All Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school bus drivers will take six furlough days, a pay cut worth $1 million, as a partial solution to offset the district’s current budget shortfall. In exchange, the district will restore the hours of 192 full-time drivers.
These are the specifics of a labor agreement between LAUSD and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, Unit C. It applies to the current academic year for all 1,092 full-time and part-time bus drivers.
“While unpaid days off are a sacrifice for our families, we understand it is a necessary sacrifice to protect good jobs in this hard economy and to secure services to students,” said Edward Reed, an LAUSD bus driver and president of SEIU Local 99. “This agreement means more bus routes won’t be cut. It means full-time jobs are protected now — and into the future. And it means the district saves $1 million. It is an example of what can be done when we work cooperatively for real solutions.”
The union offered the furlough days after the district had elected to reduce the hours of full-time drivers from eight to seven per work day in response to several rounds of severe state budget cuts. So far, the LAUSD transportation department has been forced to cut $28 million for the 2009-10 school year. As a result, more than 150 routes have been eliminated, travel time has been extended to a maximum of 90 minutes one way (up from 75 minutes) and school bus service is only provided to middle school and high school students who live more than three miles (up from two miles) from school.
“Our bus drivers are to be commended for partnering with the district in addressing our current budget crisis with a creative solution,” said Mónica García, LAUSD board president. “Working together, we can find solutions that work for all of us.”