By Tessa Roy, WPRO News and The Associated Press
As contract negotiations between a bus drivers union and bus company stall, Providence is preparing in case the drivers go on strike.
Mayor Jorge Elorza said the city considered alternate transportation options like other bus companies, RIPTA, Uber, or taxis, but none ended up being feasible. Instead, Providence is working with local rec centers as well as utilizing bus monitors and a police presence at schools to ensure safe arrivals and dismissals.
“The scale that’s required to get all of our kids to and from school, there is no ready, easy alternative to what we have,” Elorza said.
Elorza said each school has an arrival and dismissal plan, plus policies on lateness and absence will be adjusted to be more “flexible” for students. The first three days of the strike will count as excused absences, and Elorza said students can make up missed work at the end of the strike.
Superintendent Chris Maher urged parents to keep emergency contact information up to date with names of people authorized to pick up their kids. He added schools cannot send students home unless those picking them up have valid photo ID.
Nicholas Williams, spokesperson for the bus drivers union Teamsters Local 251, said Thursday that a strike will be announced at a later date, but drivers would not strike on Friday. Bus company First Student said in a statement it is “extremely disappointed” that union leaders walked out of a meeting with no deal reached.
Providence officials discuss potential actions if negotiations between a school bus drivers union and the bus company go sour and lead to a strike.
Posted by NewsTalk 99.7 & AM 630 WPRO on Friday, September 21, 2018