Danville school bus drivers reject contract

Danville school bus drivers reject contract

DANVILLE — Bus drivers for Danville schools students on Thursday rejected a proposal for a new 4-year contract from their employer, First Student Inc.

However, they did not vote to go on strike, despite urging from some members to do so.

Now "we're going to call the company and tell them (the tentative agreement) wasn't approved," said Tim Donovan, secretary-treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 26.

He said he remains hopeful the two sides, which have been working with a federal mediator, can hammer out a deal that the union will accept without resorting to strike.

While the district isn't involved in the negotiations, Superintendent Mark Denman said he's watching them closely. He said the district contracts with First Student to provide transportation for about 4,000 of the district's 6,100 to 6,200 students, and a strike would be devastating.

"We hope they will continue to negotiate and work out a mutual agreement," Denman said.

The union represents 94 bus drivers, monitors and mechanics, Donovan said. He said the old three-year contract expired on Aug. 15, and members have been working under an extension agreement since then.

Representatives for Cincinnati-based First Student couldn't be reached for comment on Thursday night. But earlier in the day, spokeswoman Jennifer Biddinger expressed hope that the tentative agreement would be ratified.

"We do believe the tentative agreement is fair and equitable for both sides," said Biddinger, who declined to disclose contract details.

The proposal, which was available at the vote, would have taken effect upon ratification and run through Aug. 15, 2017.

The hourly base wage for top-tier drivers would have gone from $16.11 the first year to $17.16 the final year. The rate for lower-tier drivers would only have increased from 5 cents to 25 cents over the four years.

The hourly base rate for first-year monitors would have been $9 over the four years; $10 for second-year monitors; and $11 for third-year monitors. Fourth-year monitors' rate would have gone from $12.11 an hour to $12.85 an hour.

And, first-tier mechanics would have earned an hourly base rate of $18.58 all four years, while their second-tier counterparts' would have seen theirs go from $24.55 to $26.05.

Union members called the increases unfair. They also disliked the offer to give members a flat $172 signing bonus in lieu of retroactive pay.

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