La Plata, MD- Charles County bus drivers are continuing their strike for a fourth straight school day. What began on Friday, October 22, 2021, as several drivers calling out sick has now turned into hundreds of routes being canceled every day; leaving parents and students scrambling to get to school.
On Tuesday, October 26, 2021, the school superintendent Dr. Maria Navarro meet with approximately thirty-five bus drivers, attendants, and contractors. At the meeting, it was announced that the Charles County Board of Education had approved a four percent Cost of Living Adjustment with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. This adjustment included bus drivers and attendants.
” I am committed to working with all Charles County bus contractors, drivers, and attendants to address their concerns. The four percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) authorized by the Board of Education yesterday directly impacts our drivers and attendants. The COLA takes effect in December and is the start, not an end, of my commitment to address the needs of our drivers and attendants. During today’s meeting, I heard concerns from various drivers and attendants, requesting increases in salaries and better benefits, including new hire bonuses, and a better salary step scale, to name a few. These requests have financial implications that I look forward to discussing further; in particular with the contractors. Bus drivers and attendants play an important role in the operations of our school system by transporting nearly 22,000 students to school each day. And I recognize that and their support of children,” said Dr. Navarro in an email to The Southern Maryland Chronicle.
Overnight, The Southern Maryland Chronicle received a document outlining the demands of the bus drivers and attendants. Bus drivers are demanding an immediate increase in pay of $15 more per hour and an increase of $10 more for attendants. The demands also include federal paid holidays, teacher in-service days, and snow days.
The drivers/attendants also want a retention plan to include a bonus of $2250 for any driver/attendants employed for three or more years beginning December 1, 2021, and a new hire bonus of $1000 to begin after that.
Drivers/Attendants want a low-cost health plan and a retirement plan that is not controlled by the contractors.
The chart below shows the step increases per even-numbered year the drivers/attendants are demanding.
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This is a developing story we are monitoring closely and will update as we receive new information.