The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 8, 2014

School bus drivers reject contract proposal

DANVILLE — Danville school bus drivers Thursday night rejected a proposal from First Student, Inc. for a new four-year contract that would have extended through Aug. 15, 2017.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 26 in Champaign — which represents 94 Danville school bus drivers, monitors and mechanics — and First Student, Inc. have been negotiating with the help of a federal mediator for at least five sessions, according to Tim Donovan, secretary-treasurer of Local 26.

Danville First Student employees have been working under an extension of their old three-year contract since Aug. 15, he said.

Donovan declined to divulge the vote total from Thursday night, only to say “it was not close.”

The sticking points, according to Donovan, are “wages and retroactive pay — those are the two biggies.”

“We will go back to the company and pick dates to go back to the bargaining table,” he said.

When asked about the possibility of a strike, Donovan replied, “That’s the last thing we want to do.”

The local First Student headquarters on Cleveland Avenue deferred all inquiries to its parent company, FirstGroup America in Cincinnati.

“First Student has been working diligently with union representatives to negotiate an agreement that is fair and reasonable for all parties involved,” said Jennifer Biddinger, who identified herself as a spokesperson for First Student in response to an email inquiry to FirstGroup America.

“We look forward to recommencing the negotiating process and continuing our discussions in good faith,” she said. “Our aim in the meantime is to continue providing safe, reliable student transportation in the Danville area.”

First Student provides transportation for more than 4,000 of District 118’s 6,200 students; however, the district is not involved in the negotiations, Superintendent Mark Denman said.

“A majority of our students ride the bus,” Denman said.

“We’re hopeful they’ll resolve their differences,” he said. “We hope it’s reconciled as quickly as possible.”

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