BOSTON — Boston’s school bus drivers were back on the job Wednesday after unexpectedly going on strike Tuesday, leaving about 30,000 students without a ride to school.
The drivers completed morning bus routes before meeting with representatives from Veolia Transportation Inc., the city’s bus contractor, and assured officials they would be back on the road for Wednesday afternoon pickup.
But Boston Public Schools superintendent John McDonough cautioned there was still a level of uncertainty going forward and urged parents to have backup plans in place.
“Until we have confidence that the bus drivers’ union is going to stop using the city’s children as leverage, we have to continue to tell parents that you should have alternative plans in place to get to and from school,” McDonough said.
After Mayor Thomas Menino blasted the drivers Tuesday – calling the strike illegal and saying he would not allow the drivers to “use our students as pawns” — he on Wednesday said most of the drivers are “good people” and that the strike was led by a “rogue element of the union.”
The school department says the walkout was prompted, in part, by union members’ opposition to a GPS system that allows parents to track buses online in real time and to changes that school officials say will ensure driver safety and improve on-time performance.
But driver Leroy Fernandez says there are other issues.
“Just the work condition that is really awkward and problems with the payrolls that get rid of our best managers,” Fernandez said. “A lot of firing and suspension, almost without a reason.”
He added that drivers are not looking for benefit or pay increases.