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West Point braces for bus driver strike

 

Dispatch Staff Report

 

WEST POINT -- A planned bus driver strike didn''t happen today, but the West Point School District is telling parents to be prepared to find other ways for their children to get to school. 

 


School district officials were notified Tuesday a strike was possible, as the drivers'' union, Teamsters Local Union 2560 in Jackson, negotiated salaries with First Student, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company to which WPSD has outsourced its transportation services. 

 


"We have been negotiating in good faith with the Teamsters representatives," said Maureen Richmond, spokeswoman for First Student. 

 


The company, which first began handling the district''s transportation services last school year, had hoped to have negotiations completed by now, Richmond said. 

 


The company believes the offered salary and benefits packages are of "fair market value, especially considering the current economic climate," she added. 

 


"We really have not had a strike," WPSD Assistant Superintendent Eluster Wicks confirmed this morning. "There was a rumor out there that there would be one, but all of our buses did run this morning." 

 


"This morning it was business as usual," Richmond said. "We were able to transport each of our students safely this morning." 

 


A strike also would affect Madison, Hinds and Yazoo counties'' school districts, all of whose drivers'' salaries still are in negotiations with First Student, districts were told this week. 

 


"We had gotten a call from the union representative that there would be a strike today. That did not materialize. I don''t really know why, but it did not," he explained. 

 


The strike could include a total of about 330 drivers. 

 


WPSD has a total enrollment of about 3,400 students, 70-80 percent of whom ride the school buses, said Wicks, who also noted there are 33 drivers each running separate routes daily. 

 


While Wicks doesn''t know if, or when, a strike might take place, the district continues to tell parents to brace for it. 

 


"Right now we''re just seeing what will happen, and we''re alerting parents to the possibility that there could be strike," he said. "It''s just wait and see at this point in time."

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment jon commented at 10/14/2009 12:27:00 PM:

let em strike their are a lot of people out of work in west point that can replace them

 

Article Comment M H Hendrix commented at 10/14/2009 1:43:00 PM:

These people tolerate alot of misbehavior both from parents and their children. We entrust our children's safety to them in mass amounts but do not want to pay bus drivers nor give them any benefits--teachers have advocates--BUS DRIVERS need to have support as well. Children that can not follow the rules need to have their parents doing the honors of transporting them but the parents need to learn responsibility and follow rules themselves-not all this waving & hollering to get their way.

 

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