Updated: Thursday, 13 Sep 2012, 10:20 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 13 Sep 2012, 1:04 PM EDT
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- A battle between a bus company and its drivers continues to brew, and New Haven school children and their parents are caught in the middle.
The contract dispute almost left students without a way home Thursday afternoon.
The good news is that buses in New Haven will be up and running on a normal schedule Friday morning. And no one has to worry about their kids being stranded at a bus stop, but it is a temporary truce.
Bus drivers packed into the cafeteria of the Career High School in New Haven Thursday, waiting for updates on the negotiations, hoping to come to some agreement. However, the hours stretched on and on, at the end of a long and dramatic day.
340 bus drivers went on strike after First Student walked out of negotiations Thursday morning. There was a large show of support from the union and the company said, there were too many people to be in the room. With talks at a standstill, the drivers took to the streets.
Leaving 18,000 students in New Haven with no way to get home from school.
"They know that they can't disrespect us, they know there are consequences."
The driver's contract expired June 30th and the two sides have failed to reach an agreement on wages. The average driver makes about $14 an hour and News 8 is told many have had their hours cut. However, they say they are very aware of how a strike could anger parents.
Jessica Morales went to pick up her kids after getting a call from the principal Thursday.
"That I had to pick up my kids cause of strike, that's what, I don't know why," said Morales.
Most parents did not have to scramble though, the company agreed to sit down again. So the bus drivers got back behind the wheel and did do their afternoon runs. Then it was back to the bargaining table. After three hours, there was some resolution.
"Before they don't give us nothing, they don't want to offer anything, now at least they give up a little bit," said Wilbur Vidro, driver.
"We don't want no misunderstandings that, you know, we're ever gonna mistreat someone's child and leave them at a school," said Keisha Sanders, driver, "no that's not our intentions at all, we just want fair pay, just like everybody else."
However, without a done deal Kevin Mercik, of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, says, "a strike is still on the table. I mean, we would rather not, we'd rather be driving the buses, we'd rather be carrying the kids."
The union reps wouldn't get into specifics about what is on the table, but drivers tell News 8 the issue is money, the number of hours and their wages. Negotiations will continue Monday, but buses will be running Friday.