SEATTLE - 12,000 Seattle students won’t have a ride to school Wednesday. First Student bus drivers which service the Seattle School District are going on a one-day strike over healthcare benefits.
Parents say the notice on Tuesday about a strike happening on Wednesday is not enough notice and causes a major headache for Seattle parents who rely on bus service to transport their kids.
"I don’t know what parents will do who have to be at work early, who rely on a bus, or have to work late and rely on a bus for their kids to get home,” said Amy Omenn, whose children attend Seattle public schools.
Parents like dad Nikita Groshin rely on school buses to transport his kids.
He says no bus means his most productive hours at work will be affected and more notice from the district would’ve been nice.
"They only informed me a couple of hours ago, so I have to change my whole day tomorrow,” said Groshin.
The Seattle School District said in part, “We are deeply disappointed that negotiations between First Student and the union have resulted in a strike. Even a one-day work stoppage will be disruptive to the families.”
The bus driver’s union, Teamsters Local 174 have been in negotiation battles since the summer with the company First Student over health care for drivers.
The union claims the company and the school district want to save money by keeping higher premium plans for drivers.
“First Student provides the bare minimum required by the ACA. This means for over 400 drivers, only 26 of them both qualified and could afford to purchase healthcare available,” said Jamie Fleming with Teamsters,” said Fleming.
First Students says they are disappointed teamsters decided to strike saying:
“Our responsibility is to transport students to and from school each and every day. We regret that the actions of Local 174 leadership make this impossible tomorrow.
Last year, we worked with Local 174 leadership on a new collective bargaining agreement. The agreement, which was ratified by union members in August of 2016, included a significant wage increase of up to 20%, and a top wage of more than $24 an hour."
Fleming says enough is enough and the strike is the way to get their message heard loud and clear.
"So if we can take them out for one day we can show First Student that we’re serious. We can show the community what a disaster it would be if a strike has to go on for longer, and so I think this would allow our members to achieve the greatest outcome while having the least possible impact on Seattle families," Fleming said.
More cars on the road also a concern for Groshin who has no idea how much of his workday he’ll have to miss.
"It will be a pretty complicated day,” said Groshin.