The tentative agreement includes an expanded benefits package and comprehensive health-care coverage for the bus drivers and their families, Teamsters and First Student said in a joint statement Friday.
Bus service for Seattle Public Schools students will resume Monday after the union representing 400 school-bus drivers voted Saturday to end their weeklong strike.
Teamsters Local 174 announced Saturday afternoon that 97 percent of members who voted did so in favor of the proposed new contract.
The agreement includes expanded benefits and comprehensive health-care coverage for drivers and their families, Teamsters and First Student said Friday. The union declined to release details Saturday, but in a news release, labor officials said the contract provides drivers with a Teamster pension plan they characterized as the first for contracted school-bus drivers in Seattle and possibly the nation for First Student drivers.
“This is life-changing,” the news release quoted driver Olivia Moore as saying, adding that she has struggled to get medical treatment because she has no insurance. The deal, she says in the release, means, “ I can go to the doctor. I can retire someday. I can’t even tell you how much that means.”
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The union first went on a one-day strike in November after negotiations failed. Contract talks then continued through the end of January, when the union rejected First Student’s newest proposal and declared a strike.
On the picket lines, bus drivers told stories of having to declare bankruptcy, pay for expensive medication out of pocket or live paycheck to paycheck because their health-care plan was unaffordable or they couldn’t get enough hours to be considered a full-time employee. Bus drivers are currently paid between $18 and $25 an hour, and drivers who work 30 hours a week or more are eligible for health-care benefits.
The bus company, First Student, said earlier, during the strike, that it had offered a package that includes year-round comprehensive health care, with the company paying 80 percent of health-insurance premiums.