Weatherford Democrat

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February 10, 2013

School bus drivers on board with call for changes

Weatherford union, Durham engage in negotiation talks

By SALLY SEXTON

Contract negotiations are ongoing between Durham School Services and bus drivers within Weatherford ISD, but discussions have reached a stalemate, according to drivers.

Negotiations began in August between the transportation company and the drivers, who became the first Durham branch in the state to unionize after a 49-14 vote among employees back in May.

Lori Kitts, a driver and negotiator for Weatherford, said that some agreements had been reached but that both parties were still discussing terms.

“Durham School Services has been negotiating with the Texas Worker’s Union since October to reach a fair agreement to cover our employees in Weatherford,” Carina Noble, a spokesperson with Durham, said. “To date, we have reached agreement on many points and are optimist about continued progress.”

Friday, many households within the Weatherford School District received fliers in the mail from Weatherford school bus drivers and monitors, outlining basic information on the drivers’ current contract and urging the community’s support.

“We want the community to know some of the issues we’re facing,” Kitts said. “Yes, it’s about the money, but it’s not all about the money.”

One of the main issues drivers are concerned with are days without pay, including holidays and sick days.

“Whether it’s teacher in-service days or any holiday that falls within the school year, we aren’t compensated for that,” driver/negotiator Dan Linden said. “We know for a fact that Durham has granted that to other drivers in other contracts.”

Drivers also are allowed no sick days and no excused absences other than a death in the immediate family.

“We used to have sick days, but now we don’t have any,” Kitts said. “We’ve gradually lost them all.”

One thing workers suggested was that drivers and monitors get one day off, which would amount to four hours of pay, per year if they never call in.

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