Make voices heard on bus driver concerns
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