Schools will remain open if Shelton’s bus drivers and monitors go on strike, according to the city’s top educator.
School Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet, in a letter posted on the district’s website on Thursday, April 25, recommends that parents of school-aged children be prepared for the uncertainty a potential strike of bus drivers may cause. Clouet said parents will also be contacted with this information.
“Our intention is to keep schools open,” said Clouet, adding that parents should “make a plan” to meet this potential strike. “If the bus drivers do authorize a strike, we will inform parents immediately.”
CSEA SEIU Local 2001, the union representing Shelton school bus drivers and monitors, voted to authorize a strike against its employer, Durham School Services, on Wednesday, April 24.
CSEA SEIU Local 2001 Communications Director Ben Phillips said "the vote allows the union negotiating team to call a strike if they feel it is necessary and the only way to get what they consider a fair contract for members.”
“Shelton school bus drivers want parents to know that we care deeply about the safe transport of our city’s most precious cargo, our students,” according to a union statement, “but we also have to take care of our families. Drivers and monitors want to settle without a strike, but Durham hasn’t made a fair offer."
“We continue to negotiate in good faith and have offered additional dates to meet with the union next week,” said Durham School Services’ media representative Ed Flavin. “We do not comment publicly on the details of ongoing labor negotiations.”
Phillips said drivers and monitors in Shelton have been working without a contract since July 2018, when Durham began providing school transportation services in the city and refused to honor the collective bargaining agreement that was in place and had included wage increases.
Shelton school bus drivers and monitors will hold an informational picket at the bus yard from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Friday.
“CSEA is continuing to negotiate,” the statement reads, “and we encourage Durham School Services to also continue negotiating in good faith.”
Clouet stated that each parents’ plan should include:
• Alternative transportation to school (if you do drive your children to school, be prepared to follow directions about temporary new drop-off and pick-up procedures).
• Be aware that transportation for class trips and athletic events may be compromised.
• Be prepared to deal with the unexpected.
“Our district web site will be posting regular updates,” stated Clouet. “The situation may change quickly. We will send out email and voice messages. I recommend checking the website regularly. It may be that drivers decide to protest and picket. That might not mean a strike is underway.
“Be flexible,” added Clouet. “We will be providing more details as this situation unfolds. Above all, together, let’s demonstrate calmness for our kids. We will get through this."