MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Meriden school bus drivers are threatening to strike at the end of their current contract — right around the first day of school.
The Teamsters Local 671 union’s contract ends Aug. 31. Union leaders said they’re looking for the same wages and paid holidays that other drivers across the state get.
“The standard is nine paid holidays,” said Nick Frangiamore a spokesperson for Teamsters Local 671. “They’re offering zero, and they’re refusing to even come up to one.”
He said the New Britain Transportation Company is refusing to return to the bargaining table, and that the company took away some benefits during negotiations. That includes the 401K contribution and health care assistance.
Frangiamore said it became “simply the worst bus contract in the state. Probably the company.”
The New Britain Transportation Company disputes that claim, stating that it is keeping the current health care and 401K contribution.
“Our driver wages are competitive with other bus companies,” said Peter Agostini, the president and CEO of the transportation company. “We currently operate under a teamster contract so the comment it is the ‘worst contract’ is baseless.”
Drivers said they’ll work on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31, which are the first two days of school. However, they could walk off the job on Sept. 1 if negotiations don’t resume.
Parents are concerned about how their children will get to school if there’s a strike. The district is already facing a driver shortage.
“I’m a little worried, because he needs the transportation, and it’s a little far,” Beatrice Arzola said.
Some parents are supportive of a potential strike.
“So, it’s going to shake a lot of things up,” Barietta Perez said. “Usually shaking things up works. It gets people to listen.”
The Meriden Federation of Teachers has given its support to the 60 bus drivers.
Agostini said negotiations are moving, along but he would not comment on what the contingency plans are if there is a strike.
News 8 reached out to the school district and the president of the school board, Rob Kosienski. He declined to comment, stating that the contract is between the teamsters and the bus company.