TACOMA, Wash. — Some special-needs school bus drivers here returned to work on Thursday after calling out sick for three days, allowing most bus routes to resume normal service, My Northwest reports.
Nearly two dozen drivers called out sick on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as a result of long work hours and low pay, leaving more than 350 students to find alternate options for transportation, according to MyNorthwest.
Dan Voelpel, a spokesperson for Tacoma Public Schools, wrote in a message to The News Tribune Thursday morning that all of the district’s routes were “essentially back to normal with delays on four routes.” He also said that drivers received a pay raise this year that was greater than the negotiated agreement between the district and the union that represents the drivers.
A representative from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 286 wrote in a letter to drivers Tuesday stating that it does not condone any coordinated, unauthorized work stoppage, The News Tribune reports.
Sheryl Armstrong, one of the drivers who called out sick, told The News Tribune that she hopes the protest will result in more action from the district in retaining drivers and allow them to reopen its contract with the union. She had written in a letter to a teacher that she sent to the newspaper that drivers are short-staffed, sometimes tripling routes, and that "Drivers are fatigued, frustrated and exhausted. Many cry at work on a daily basis."