School bus drivers said they're taking a stand over better wages and benefits.
Union drivers for the Dattco Bus Company in Hartford took part in a protest on Friday morning.
They said they picketed at the company's bus lot on Main Street.
It started after the children were picked up and dropped off at school.
The drivers said they're negotiating for better benefits, wages, hours and healthcare. They believe the company has been stalling contract negotiations by citing that the school year is coming to a close with classes set to end in June.
"We’ve been railroaded every time we go to the table," said Malika Chambers, a Dattco bus driver. "We are the only yard for Dattco that doesn’t have a 401k and they haven’t explained why."
They said they've been working without a contract since Sept. 1, 2015.
The union said Friday's event was not a strike and that afternoon pickup would not be disrupted.
It said it was just about getting Dattco's attention.
"To me other yards are getting what we are asking for," said Stacy Barrett, a Dattco bus driver. "So I don’t know what the problem is."
The driver said they were also frustrated because the Hartford yard is one of Dattco's biggest, which means added responsibilities like filling in on other routes around the state.
"It seems like the smaller yards are getting all the benefits and we are doing all the work," Barrett said. "They pull us from this yard to go over there. So if you want us to do all that, why can’t you pay us for it. It’s that’s simple."
Close to 140 drivers were expected to attend the 8 a.m. protest.
Dattco C.O.O Cliff Gibson released a statement to Eyewitness News Friday morning.
“DATTCO is currently engaged in labor negotiations with SEIU local 2001, who is the bargaining agent elected by the drivers in Hartford. We are continuing to bargain in good faith, until we reach an agreement that is mutually agreeable to all parties, and is best for our company and our employees. We have confidence in our drivers who have demonstrated professionalism and patience during these negotiations. We look forward to our next bargaining session, and to reaching an agreement."
The union said it is scheduled to sit down with the company on April 13.
Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.