Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Amid Seattle School Bus Strike, Employer Says It Will Meet With The Union And A Mediator

Brie Ripley
Seattle school bus drivers hold signs Feb. 1on Lake City Way. They are on strike over health and retirement benefits.

First Student, the company that employs school bus drivers in Seattle, said it will meet Thursday with the leadership of Teamsters Local 174 and a federal mediator. That comes after drivers have been on strike since Feb. 1 over health and retirement benefits.

In an emailed statement, First Student said it will meet with the union leadership and the mediator “with the hope that the union will bring our health care and retirement package to its members for a vote.”

The company said its proposal is fair and would pay for 80 percent of health insurance premiums for its drivers. The union has criticized the offer because the company has not offered to cover any share of the premiums for dependents of part-time drivers.

Teamsters Local 174 spokeswoman Jamie Fleming said that the drivers want to see something better than what the company offered last week.

“We do not know what kind of proposals First Student will bring to that meeting but we certainly hope that they’ll bring a serious proposal to the table that will get all these people back to work,” she said.

The drivers number about 400. Some have opted to continue working during the strike, and First Student says almost one third of routes have been covered this week.

Fleming acknowledged that some drivers have crossed the picket line, but she says it’s fewer than the company claims. The drivers on strike will get some compensation from a union strike fund later this week. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.