Marlborough school bus drivers go on strike; Framingham Teamsters reach deal with bus company
Unionized school bus drivers in Marlborough are on strike Monday after failing to reach an agreement with their employer North Reading Transportation (NRT) Bus Inc.
Teamsters Local 170 set up picketing locations by two schools in Marlborough and near the Solomon Pond Mall.
Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant said school absences Monday were 10% to 15% lower than regular levels.
"We're looking out for the best interest of the kids, that's all," Vigeant said. "We just want to make sure we get the kids to school safely. We hope the union gets back to the table and we can put this thing behind us. And let's go back to the regular school day."
Teamsters Local 170 did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
The strike by the Teamsters Local 170 puts into play a mitigation plan for student transportation that includes a limited number of buses — yellow school buses for parts of the city with a large concentration of students and mini buses for special education students. Students living within a 1.5 mile radius of their school will be expected to walk, and students living outside of a 1.5 mile radius, where there are less students, will be expected to be dropped off.
NRT, the company contracted to provide busing services for the public schools, had been in negotiations with the Teamsters over worker contracts in Marlborough, Framingham and Westborough. Last week, three possible strikes loomed in the MetroWest area. But on Sunday evening, NRT announced it had reached a tentative agreement with bus drivers in Framingham.
Shortly after, the company came out with another announcement saying that the union had ordered its Marlborough members to go on strike. According to the company, bus drivers want an additional 22% wage increase for restricted commercial driver license (CDL) drivers, school pupil (7D) drivers, and monitors, "even after NRT, in a show of good faith, increased Marlborough CDL wages by 30.8% only four months ago on January 1, 2023."
“Let me be clear, the negotiations have been centered around part-time jobs that currently are paying $34.00 per hour in Marlborough,” an NRT spokesperson said. “This current compensation structure already places those drivers at the top of School Bus Driver compensation range across the State of Massachusetts.”
In Westborough, contract negotiations are ongoing, according to the NRT.
This article was originally published on May 08, 2023.