Union Says It Won’t Back Bus Deal
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Negotiators for striking school bus drivers said Saturday they would urge drivers to vote against a proposed contract that could end the walkout.
The strike, which began April 2, has meant delays for 20,000 students and forced the cancellations of sporting events and field trips. Teamsters representing 800 drivers have negotiated with Laidlaw Education Services, which has a contract with the Los Angeles school district.
``I totally expect it to be rejected″ and for the strike to continue, said Rick Middleton, chief negotiator for the Teamsters local representing the drivers.
Don Owens, a union spokesman, had released a statement earlier Saturday in which Middleton said union negotiators would recommend that drivers accept the offer. But Owens later said that was an error and that the union would recommend drivers turn it down.
Laidlaw Vice President Jim Ferraro did not immediately return calls to his office for comment.
He has said Laidlaw was offering wage increases averaging 4.6 percent each year. But Middleton said the figure would only apply to employees with several years of experience.
The drivers are seeking 5 percent pay hikes and better benefits.
Bus drivers were expected to vote on the proposal Monday. They could work Tuesday if they approved it.
Laidlaw representatives walked away from the bargaining table April 5, and talks resumed Friday.