Bus drivers engaged in work stoppage in Hartford - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Bus drivers engaged in work stoppage in Hartford

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Hartford police were on scene early Tuesday as several bus drivers on strike blocked school buses from leaving a bus yard on Main Street. (WFSB) Hartford police were on scene early Tuesday as several bus drivers on strike blocked school buses from leaving a bus yard on Main Street. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Hartford police were on scene early Tuesday as several bus drivers on strike blocked school buses from leaving a bus yard on Main Street. 

Police were able to get the workers to move and some buses were able to begin their routes for the day. 

CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, which is the union for the bus drivers, has been negotiating with DATTCO, the company that bus drivers work for. However, a work stoppage was planned for Tuesday, after an agreement was not reached about a new contract extension because of money.

The union said they have been working without a contract since Sept. 1, and last month drivers held a protest after they said an agreement couldn't be reached.

"What's at issue right now is that these drivers have had their hours cut repeatedly over the last few years to the point where many are struggling to make ends meet," said Ben Phillips, of CSEA-SEIU Local 2001.

Union officials said 130 bus drivers are impacted by what they are calling a "strike," which begins at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Parent Sirena Davis said this will impact her job.

"I'm not going to work tomorrow so that I can make sure my kids are going to school and I can watch other people's kids so that they can go to work," Davis said.

In a statement, DATTCO said "By doing so, they have placed their union’s agenda ahead of the safety of the school children of the Hartford Public Schools. We consider this to be a careless and selfish act, and not in the best interest of our loyal and professional employees, or the Hartford Public Schools." 

DATTCO said they reached an agreement with the union "that provided significant increases in benefits and pay to our Hartford-based drivers."

"We just learned that our drivers have rejected this agreement and we are extremely disappointed in the actions of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 to call a work stoppage," DATTCO said.

A federal mediator was contacted by DATTCO and another negotiating session is expected later this week. 

"Even though our current contract with the Hartford Board of Education expires on June 30 of this year we do not feel it is responsible to agree to additional pay and benefits - especially pay for hours not worked - that would increase the cost of school bus transportation in the City of Hartford for the next five years," DATTCO said. 

In response to the work stoppage, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools Beth Schiavino Narvaez released a statement on Monday.

“We are disappointed that this bus provider and its bus drivers have been unable to reach an agreement to avoid this unnecessary interruption of transportation services,” Narvaez said.

Narvaez said students that cannot get to school because of the work stoppage will receive an excused absent from class.

However, this work stoppage will not affect students that attend Suburban magnet school or special education students.

Officials from A.I. Prince Technical High School said it will be impacted by the bus issue on Tuesday and the school will be closed.

"People have work and we all have our things to do so it's going to have a tremendous impact on parents. It's not going to be good thing," said parent Linda Giarratano.

Bus service from DATTCO will return to normal operations by Wednesday. 

"We apologize to the families of Hartford who have been adversely affected by the actions undertaken today by CSEA/SEIU Local 2001," DATTCO said. 

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