Students who take the bus to school are encouraged to make alternate arrangements, says Teamsters Local 174, the union representing Seattle Public Schools' 400 bus drivers.
School-bus drivers in Seattle are planning to strike over labor contracts beginning Thursday, meaning some 12,000 students may need to find different ways to get to school.
Teamsters Local 174, the union representing Seattle Public Schools’ 400 bus drivers, announced the strike in a news release Tuesday evening, saying it will “likely impact all yellow bus service” throughout the district and last until it reaches a deal with Seattle’s school-bus contractor, First Student. First student is urging bus drivers to ask union leadership to take a vote on the matter.
“Parents of children in the Seattle School District who ride the bus to school are encouraged to make alternate transportation arrangements, as bus service throughout the School District is likely to be impacted,” the release from the union says. Supporters can join a picket line Thursday at the First Student bus depot in South Seattle.
The strike comes roughly two months after the bus drivers first authorized a strike against First Student. Drivers picketed on Nov. 29, but negotiations continued after that. The drivers want more affordable health benefits and a stronger retirement plan, benefits they say the company last year promised to address this year.
Union, district and city leaders have urged First Student to work toward an agreement to avoid striking. A First Student spokesman said in a statement Tuesday:
“We are extremely disappointed that Teamsters Local 174 leadership refused to bring the new contract offer to our drivers for a vote,” the statement says. “We realize that any disruption to student transportation is a hardship for families who depend on yellow bus service to get their children to and from school in a safe, dependable manner.”
Seattle Times staff reporter Paige Cornwell contributed to this report.