AP NEWS

It’s official Shelton bus drivers approve contract

May 8, 2019

SHELTON — School bus drivers and monitors on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new contract with Durham School Services.

CSEA SEIU Local 2001 Communications Director Ben Phillips called the new contract “a tremendous victory for the Shelton drivers and monitors who stood up for themselves and their families and won.”

According to Phillips, Durham will be required to honor the wages and benefits promised to workers under the previous contract with Landmark Transportation. Included in the agreement is full back pay of the raises due in September 2018, which, Phillips said, Durham had refused to pay.

The approved deal brings a close what had become several contentious months between Shelton’s bus drivers and monitors and their employer, Durham School Services. This deal was first announced last week, only days after Shelton bus drivers and monitors had voted to authorize a strike and even scheduled a walkout. Negotiations started in earnest one day before the walkout was set to begin.

Phillips said that in 2018, Durham School Services signed a one-year, multimillion-dollar contract with the Shelton Board of Education to provide school transportation, and school bus workers were covered by a union contract that included negotiated pay and benefits through August 2020.

In a prior Facebook post, the union listed several items Durham wanted to remove from the union contract, including retroactive raises, personal days, unpaid extended leave, payment for “student endorsement” renewal, mileage reimbursement for drug test and medical exams, and payment for travel and testing time of drug tests and medical exams. Employees would also be forced to work the day before and after to receive holiday pay.

“Durham refused to honor the terms of that contract and canceled raises that had been promised to the drivers and monitors,” said Phillips.

Phillips said Shelton drivers and monitors refused to give up the pay and benefits that their families depend on, which led to the vote to strike Wednesday, April 24. Bus drivers and monitors held an informational picket on Friday, April 26, and planned to begin striking on April 30 if they were unable to reach an agreement with Durham.

“After lengthy negotiations, Durham backed down, proving once again that when working people are united together in unions, they win,” said Phillips.

The City of Shelton will be taking control of school transportation in July, which means that a new contract will be finalized between the city and the drivers and monitors at that time. Both Mayor Mark Lauretti and Phillips confirmed that there have been discussions, but nothing close to being final yet.

Durham School Services is a division of National Express LLC which, according to the company’s website, is the North American subsidiary of National Express Group PLC, a transportation firm in the United Kingdom.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com