(Added: Picket-line photo from South Park, sent by Al)

The strike by hundreds of First Student drivers, whose company provides school-bus service for Seattle Public Schools, has begun. Their union Teamsters Local 174 reports that drivers are picketing at the First Student bus yards in South Park and Lake City as of about an hour ago. As announced earlier this week, this is NOT a one-day walkout like the November strike – this is an “until there’s an agreement” strike. But school IS open and the families of students who would usually take the bus are expected to make arrangements to get their kids to school; the district’s answers to other questions can be found here.

22 Replies to "SCHOOL-BUS DRIVER STRIKE: Picketing begins"

  • Also John February 1, 2018 (7:43 am)

    That bike has a great light!

     If I’m correct this group wants a pension?!  Get in line…who doesn’t want one, but they need to realize that pensions are going the way of the Doo Doo bird.  They need to contribute to a 401K and start an IRA like the majority of the country.

    • WSB February 1, 2018 (9:36 am)

      Health care is the primary point of contention, but retirement benefits also are mentioned.

      The company’s most recent statement

      • Alex February 2, 2018 (7:36 pm)

        And actually, the “retirement” that first student is so quick to tout?  Is capped at $250 annually matched by the company of course…..  Work for 20 years and end up with 10K…..  My rent alone would eat that in 9 Months……  Its a joke.

        Further, in a previous proposal the company actually offered a pension payment plan along the lines of what the union was asking for….  that would pay out $6/mnth after 5 years of vestment, and they wanted to cap their payment annually at $50,000, so you’d only get that extra cup of coffee a few months of the year….  Again, a Joke.

        That said, The Health care is the bigger fight at the moment.  Does $800 out of pocket premium to add a spouse sound like a good deal for you?  With a $5000 deductible because you’re not a full time employee as 80%+ of our employees aren’t?  How about $1200 out of pocket to for full Family?  The vast majority of the clients that Ride First student (The students) have health care through their families.  Why should our families be worth less?

        Edited To clarify that the company matches the $250 Annually by the employee

    • Native Wear Seattle February 1, 2018 (10:09 am)

      What a waste… 80 percent coverage of premium costs on healthcare.. double digit pay raise and 100 percent 401 k match … as usual 174 just looks to cripple the city just as they want to do if given the bargaining right of Uber thanks to our worthless council. Lisa Herbold should weigh in on behalf of our citizens… oops she would ask for 100 premium and any other socialist agenda she could find. Until we stand up the socialists will bring this city to its knees 

      • WSB February 1, 2018 (10:48 am)

        This is not a city matter. It’s between First Student, which contracts with Seattle Public Schools (its own tax-funded entity, not related to or operated by city government), and its employees. Three councilmembers (not including Lisa Herbold) did issue a statement of support for the drivers, but that’s about it for a city angle here.

    • psps February 1, 2018 (12:40 pm)

      Sorry but pensions aren’t a “thing of the past” when it comes to the CEO of First Student/First Group Tim O’Toole. He’ll have to get by on a paltry guaranteed £140,000 + 20% of base pay (now over £1-million) every year.  Poor guy.

      • Swede. February 1, 2018 (5:22 pm)

        Yup, that will be rough for him. 

        There is quite a bit off truth to it though, pensions are going away, in the US… he lives in England where they take much better care of their people, not just the rich. 

  • sbre (AL) February 1, 2018 (10:02 am)

    Thanks “Also John”, I like making sure those around me see me while I’m riding.

    First Student does offer us a 401k, with a small matching percentage as well. Plus I personally have 2 IRA’s working for me.

    Our biggest beef is no medical. When I started driving 14 years ago I had great insurance through my partner, but when she & I split-up a couple of years ago the insurance went with her, so now I’m paying just under $550 a month for JUST ME! (Couldnt imagine having to insure a family!!)

    Not right for an international company of this size to not help take care of its employees, especially since our ‘customers’ are walking Petri dishes!

    I sincerely love being a school bus driver and every child who has crossed my path, and don’t want to stop, but should this school year end and we find things have not improved, First Student will lose a driver who has never called in sick for the duration of his employment with them (although I have missed a few afternoon shifts to attend the Mariners home/season opening games. A guy has to have his priorities in-line!)

    To all the parents, faculty and community members who have shown their support since Nov when all this crap began, THANK YOU!  It means a lot.

    • Jon Wright February 1, 2018 (10:09 am)

      SBRE (AL), If you don’t mind my asking, is your $550/month health insurance through First Student or did you buy it on the open market?

    • Azimuth February 1, 2018 (2:25 pm)

      I’m a parent and I support your efforts. The corporate mindset is to get as much as it can for the least, so no one is just going to hand you a fair deal, whatever that means to you, so keep fighting for your rights and your standard of living. And the petri dish comment made me laugh!

  • skeeter February 1, 2018 (10:26 am)


    Can someone
    explain something to me?  My
    understanding of the primary dispute is drivers are not being offered
    affordable health insurance.  Under the
    employer mandate of the ACA, a
    s of 2016, businesses with more than 50 full-time
    equivalent workers *have* to offer *affordable* coverage to those workers and
    their dependents.  Well I’m pretty sure
    First Student has far more than 50 employees. 
    So what am I missing?  Did First
    Student get some sort of waiver or exemption that they do not have to comply
    with the ACA?  I can understand if there
    is a dispute over wages or time off or whatever.  But there shouldn’t be a dispute about
    affordable health insurance because the law requires it from 2016 forward.

    • WSB February 1, 2018 (10:45 am)

      I believe the issue here is what is being offered to *part* time workers, who comprise much if not most of the FS workforce, given the work schedule.

    • Swede. February 1, 2018 (5:26 pm)

      My understanding is that $550 IS ‘affordable’… Heard lots of people paying twice that. 

      • The King February 1, 2018 (9:48 pm)

        It probably is affordable. I won’t say the name of the district I worked for back in 2002, the family plan Group Health was $600 out of pocket and the deductibles were very high, dental was $90, vision was a 15% coupon off of an exam only, they took $290 for the retirement plan while contributing just over 10%, …..then the tax man came with his hand out. I was bringing home a dead fish of a check, so I left. This was a state job lol.

  • MJ February 1, 2018 (11:01 am)

    sbre (AL)

    The $550 you noted is basically the same as what I’m paying, a 56 year old active fit male. 

    I agree the cost is pricey, but a good part of the reason is the ACA that foists people to buy way more coverage than many need and does not allow insurers to provide basic high deductible plans without all the mandates.

  • Michael Waldo February 1, 2018 (11:05 am)

    20 years ago my mom was a driver for First Student. They struck then for a pension and health care.

    Got neither at the time. First student brought in scabs and strike fizzled.

    I agree a pension is a thing of the past but affordable health insurance is a worthy thing to want.

    Forget the pension and stick with the health care issue to maintain community support.

    And yes, most drivers are only part time because you take kids to school – off for a few hours – then take kids home.

  • Gina February 1, 2018 (2:39 pm)

    Today I noticed a single First Student bus at Lafayette before and after school. Is there some sort of private agreement for a single bus?

    • WSB February 1, 2018 (3:02 pm)

      According to various reports, a few drivers crossed the picket line, so that COULD be what you saw. The company also had been advertising for replacement drivers, reportedly.

  • zark00 February 1, 2018 (4:04 pm)

    Don’t they usually supply buses for special needs kids regardless of the strike?  I thought that was usually done; maybe that was the bus at Lafayette?

    No pension mentioned except by the first post – and then parroted by all the posters who didn’t read.

    No 100% 401k match – poster just completely made that one up wholesale. 

    No guaranteed raise – proposed ‘up to’ 20% in some cases – so from zero to the possibility of 20% – with no guarantee.

    They’re not crippling the city, nor are they trying to, they’re trying to afford to live here and keep driving our kids around.

    • WSB February 1, 2018 (4:39 pm)

      The district FAQ (linked above) says that the district supplies private transportation for some special-education students but that it is NOT First Student buses.

      • Pam February 2, 2018 (2:56 pm)

        Our son is in special ed pre-K at Lafayette and our bus route is not running as of today. I heard something to the effect that sped students may receive priority busing but I’m not certain. We are understanding of the circumstances and able to accommodate.

  • Stand strong February 2, 2018 (8:23 pm)

    I support the school bus drivers and their fight for Healthcare as well as pension benefits and hope they are successful. 

    Its always interesting to me how others can knock hard working middle class members instead of supporting them. If your upset because your benefits aren’t in line with what the Bus drivers are asking for, then stand up for yourself and I will support you as well. We’re all in this together. 

    A note on pensions. It is true that they are becoming more scarce, but that’s just another way for employers to push the risk onto employees. I’m sure some of you are very financially intune, but the majority of blue collar Americans be it bus driver nurses or teachers dont spend time agonizing over their 401k investments and they shouldn’t have to their not in that line of work. The down fall of pensions has only pushed the responsibility of being a “financial adviser” back onto he working class. In addition it’s making tons of money for wall street with the fees workers are having to pay to manage those accounts. 

    We all do better when we all do better. 

Sorry, comment time is over.