Bethel Park students, parents and taxpayers deserve better.
For the last two years the bus drivers and bus aides in the Bethel Park School District have worked without a contract. Have you heard them complain or go out on strike? No, you have not.
In fact most residents probably did not know they were working without a contract. Something the district has hid very well from its residents and taxpayers is that this past summer it contacted several private carriers to replace its union workers and provide transportation to its students. The reason given to me by Nancy Rose is that an impasse had been declared by both sides and they went out in search of bids. I cannot see how an impasse can be declared when only one proposal was ever presented to its employees by the district. This proposal was given to them on Feb. 6. and has not been rejected or approved by union members. The proposal strips everything many of the drivers that have been there for 20 plus years have worked for. Massive pay cuts amounting to more than 20 percent in the first year, loss of all benefits, health, dental, vision, workers comp, long and short term disability. Yes, this saves the district money, which is needed in these hard economic times. From what I have seen and been told, this proposal saves almost $300,000 per year more than the lowest RFP submitted by First Student. Why would you offer your own residents and employees less than an outside company?
The low bidder First Student has also been in the news multiple times over the past year for safety problem, driver issues, lateness of pickups, wrong drop offs, the list goes on. In fact, a Penn Hills bus (First Student) lost a wheel in traffic on Feb 6.
Do we as residents and taxpayers really want a company with no vested interest in our students taking over the responsibility of safely delivering them to school and bringing them back home to us? Many of the drivers and aides are parents and grandparents, as well as taxpayers in the community where they work.
I feel they are being treated unfairly by the district and its administrators. They deserve a fair offer and not what amounts to an ultimatum, which is accept this or you need to find work elsewhere.
I encourage anyone to speak up to the district on this issue email, or call the board members personally. Their phone numbers are on the district website. There is also a board meeting at 8 p.m. Feb. 26. Please come and speak out against these subversive measures to privatize student transportation in Bethel Park.