Make voices heard on bus driver con­cerns

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

I was able to at­tend a pub­lic fo­rum hear­ing at the Charles County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing a cou­ple of weeks ago. It was at­tended by about 100 peo­ple. The more I un­der­stand about the county bus con­trac­tors and their em­ploy­ees, I felt the need to write this let­ter to get in­for­ma­tion to the county cit­i­zens.

There were two speak­ers that night who wanted county bus driv­ers to sup­port a union. These speak­ers ap­peared to be cab driv­ers. One speaker said he was from the union and sup­ported it. The sec­ond speaker spoke of low pay, low hours, low re­tire­ment and driv­ers not be­ing able to buy a home.

Re­gard­ing pay and hours, there are set routes and driv­ers av­er­age about six hours a day. On a 180 day school year at $19 an hour ($19,000 a year) you won’t af­ford a home in Charles County. I feel most county driv­ers are buy­ing or own their own home based on their work ethics. Re­gard­ing re­tire­ment is­sues, I spoke to one of the con­trac­tors. He in­formed me that in ad­di­tion to the driv­ers’ county re­tire­ment, he en­cour­aged driv­ers to start ad­di­tional plans on their own, some driv­ers hav­ing three dif­fer­ent plans. Also re­gard­ing re­tire­ment, this sec­ond speaker spoke of how much the two de­ceased driv­ers had amassed over the years. I’m sure these two driv­ers did the best they could do based on their sit­u­a­tion, as they were rais­ing chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. I’m also sure they wouldn’t have wanted their name men­tioned in a pub­lic fo­rum to union­ize.

Over the years I have met many county bus con­trac­tors and many county trans­porta­tion em­ploy­ees. Most of the con­trac­tors are sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion com­pa­nies and most of the driv­ers have 10 to 30 plus years driv­ing. The con­trac­tors, trans­porta­tion and bus driv­ers make sure our chil­dren are trans­ported safely.

There were eight other speak­ers that night. Re­gard­ing county bus driv­ers, some were con­trac­tors and some were driv­ers. All spoke in fa­vor of the cur­rent sys­tem. The con­trac­tors also in­vited the BOE to visit their shops and meet their em­ploy­ees. I hope the board ac­cepts this in­vi­ta­tion. I would like all par­ents, grand­par­ents, care­givers and guardians to stand up and voice your opin­ion on our ded­i­cated con­trac­tors and driv­ers be­fore we have driv­ers that will re­mind you of a cab driver. Also, if you’re not happy, change your line of work. I don’t want un­happy driv­ers trans­port­ing our chil­dren.

Also, I am very grate­ful to have had Koch Truck­ing trans­port my chil­dren, grand­chil­dren, nieces and neph­ews to school for the last 40 plus years. Jim Jones, New­burg

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