DPS Bus Drivers
March 28, 2018
The Dayton Public Schools and OAPSE Local 627, which represents all bus drivers in the district, have reached an ultimate impasse in their contract negotiations. Today, the bus drivers provided a notice of their intent to strike on April 10th. To ensure that transportation services for students are not disrupted as a result of any strike, the Board will immediately prepare a strike plan, including contracting with outside bussing providers and providing information to parents about what to expect.
The two negotiation teams have been in talks since June 29, 2017. The contract expired on June 30, 2017. The teams have met numerous times over the last nine months, and sought additional assistance from federal mediators for the last three sessions.
In past negotiation seasons, including in 2015, the bus drivers have told the public that the Board’s salary proposals demonstrated a lack of respect for the hard work they perform. In this round of negotiations, as early as September of 2017, the parties had come to a signed, tentative agreement as to all issues. This included a substantial wage increase between ten and fourteen percent – a 10-14% raise for all drivers depending upon years of experience. The Board is not aware of any time in recent history where one bargaining unit was set to receive such a large raise in the first year of the contract.
Pursuant to the tentative agreement, the drivers would also receive an additional two percent (2%) increase for each of the subsequent two years of the contract and an additional step was added to the salary schedule to encourage drivers to remain in the district. The drivers would also receive a one-time lump sum payment to cover retroactive raises over the period of negotiations. All other economic benefits in the contract would remain the same or increase, including insurance, personal leave, and other incentives.
On top of that, the Board recently purchased 115 brand new buses – a sign that the Board fully understands and respects the work that its bus drivers do.
Despite the favorable terms agreed to by the union bargaining team, the September tentative agreement was not ratified by a vote of the union membership. Instead of filing an unfair labor charge with the State for bad faith bargaining, the Board of Education sought to understand the concerns that had resulted in this rejection and it came back to the bargaining table. Those efforts have continued for the last six months and included the services of two federal mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Without sharing the specifics of negotiations that occurred since the September tentative agreement, the Board can say that additional wage increases were offered in exchange for some language in the contract that would enhance record-keeping, make driving assignments more efficient, and result in better coverage for students. Bus drivers were looking at a starting salary increasing from $13.85 to $15.75 an hour and a bonus of $1,000 to $2,000. Despite the record-setting wage increases, the union has voted down the proposed contract at least three additional times and has, once again, set up a strike to directly coincide with student testing.
On March 28, 2019, the Board received notice that the drivers intend to strike on April 10, right after students return from spring break. It appears that the strike has been intentionally scheduled at a time to cause the district the most harm due to student testing. In addition, the drivers have not explained to the Board’s negotiating team what specific issues are actually causing the impasse. The Board has attempted to negotiate in good faith with the union, but finds itself as the only party doing any compromising. There is little option left for the Board at this time but to plan for the strike using outside providers and look towards implementing its last best offer.