Elorza: Deal reached to end Prov­i­dence school bus strike

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE -

PROV­I­DENCE (AP) — A school bus com­pany and its strik­ing driv­ers’ union on Fri­day reached a ten­ta­tive deal to end the strike that has lasted more than two weeks, Prov­i­dence Mayor Jorge Elorza an­nounced Fri­day even­ing.

Elorza said de­tails of the agree­ment be­tween bus com­pany First Stu­dent and the Team­sters Lo­cal 251 were still be­ing fi­nal­ized and that mem­bers of the union must rat­ify it.

The strike be­gan Sept. 27 and af­fects more than 9,000 school­child­ren. The dis­pute cen­tered on retirement ben­e­fits.

“I am glad that both sides are heed­ing the call to put the needs of stu­dents and fam­i­lies first by en­gag­ing in con­struc­tive di­a­logue,” City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent David Sal­va­tore said in a joint state­ment with Elorza.

First Stu­dent had re­leased a state­ment ear­lier Fri­day

call­ing on driv­ers to re­turn to work Mon­day.

City of­fi­cials had said they would con­sider re­quest­ing new pro­pos­als for school bus trans­porta­tion.

Ab­sences have risen as some stu­dents have had trou­ble get­ting to school, and the city hasn’t pro­vided any al­ter­na­tive trans­porta­tion.

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Rhode Is­land ini­ti­ated le­gal ac­tion ear­lier this week against state ed­u­ca­tional of­fi­cials for fail­ing to pro­vide trans­porta­tion for stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties, some­thing the ACLU said schools are re­quired un­der the law to pro­vide.

A fire in the com­pany’s bus yard Thurs­day dam­aged more than half a dozen buses, First Stu­dent spokesman Frank McMa­hon said. Prov­i­dence Pub­lic Safety Com­mis­sioner Steven Pare said while the cause of the fire re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, it is con­sid­ered sus­pi­cious.

McMa­hon said he would not spec­u­late on whether the fire was con­nected to the strike un­til the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted. The union con­demned the prop­erty dam­age.

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