PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A school bus drivers' union here reached an agreement with contractor First Student on Friday after an 11-day strike, allowing school bus service to resume on Monday.
General Teamsters Local 251, the union that represents the Providence Public Schools bus drivers, and First Student came to an agreement that enhances benefits and provides wage increases, according to the union’s Facebook page and website. The agreement also increases morning and afternoon pay guarantees, improves driver healthcare benefits, and establishes a new pension for drivers, according to the union.
“The drivers were committed to securing a fair agreement that rewards them for safely transporting our most precious cargo, our children, to and from school every day,” said Nick Williams, a business agent for Local 251, in the Facebook post and website. “A secure retirement and more guaranteed hours further encourages long-term loyalty to the job and care for the children.”
In a statement obtained by WPRI, Francis McMahon, a spokesman for First Student, said that the contractor agreed to contribute to the union’s defined contribution plan on behalf of its employees, and that it “looks forward to welcoming our valued employees back to work on Monday morning."
The drivers' union and First Student had been struggling to come to an agreement on retirement benefits for months, WPRI reports, and a failure to reach an agreement prompted the union to begin the strike on Sept. 27. More than 9,000 students had to find other transportation to and from school during the strike, including 1,000 students with transportation included in their individualized education program (IEP). (As previously reported, a spokesperson for Providence Public Schools had told WPRI the district plans to reimburse parents of special-needs students for transporting them during the strike and to provide specialized educational services after the strike ends to make up for any lost time at school.)
View a Facebook post below from Providence Public Schools about the strike ending.