Bus drivers, company reach tentative agreement

By WPRO News and The Associated Press

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza says a tentative 4-year deal has been reached to end a school bus strike that has lasted more than two weeks.

“I greatly appreciate everyone’s collaboration in coming to an agreement that restores transportation for our kids,” said Elorza. “We’ll continue to work to ensure a smooth transition for students affected by the strike. I want to thank all of the parents, neighbors, teachers, police officers, firefighters, administrators, and community partners that supported our kids throughout the past 11 days.”

Elorza says bus company First Student and the Teamsters union that represents drivers say they reached a tentative agreement Friday. He says the details of the agreement are still being finalized, and that members of the Teamsters Local 251 must ratify it.

“To the families, I mean, I apologize. We fight corporate America all the time and there’s never a third party that’s hurt except for the customers and in this case, the customers were the community that we live and work in so it’s a really hard decision to make a strike,” said union business agent Nick Williams. “We did everything in our power to avoid this.”

The strike began Sept. 27 and affects more than 9,000 schoolchildren. The dispute centered on retirement benefits.

First Student had released a statement earlier Friday calling on drivers to return to work Monday. If the union passes the agreement over the weekend, bus drivers will return to work on Monday.

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