Unionized bus drivers in Beaufort, Charleston and Dorchester 2 are poised to call a strike if they’re not satisfied with their new contract from their employer, Durham School Services
Negotiations have been going on since last summer, and the biggest issue is drivers’ pay and benefits.
Talks between Durham and the union are resuming today and will go through Thursday. A different district will be the focus of each day, but the order has not been disclosed.
Neither side will discuss details of drivers’ demands or the company’s position. The average Charleston bus driver is paid $14.65 per hour for 4 1/2 hours of work each day, and the union at one point requested a roughly 44 percent pay and benefit increase for the first year of a three-year deal, according to Charleston school officials. Drivers’ pay would increase 20 percent in the two remaining years, according to the district.
The union has said those figures aren’t accurate.
Until a deal is reached, a strike could be called in any of the three school districts. The union has not set a deadline on negotiations.
Key phone numbers and sources of help for parents who are worried:
Parents have been encouraged to make alternative transportation plans for their children in case a strike is called. For information on CARTA routes, call: (843) 745-4101.
Some parents have started organizing carpools and rideshares in case a strike is called. For more information or to sign up, go to: www.ccsdparents.com.
The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments also has a free online resource, Trident Rideshare at tridentrideshare.com, that Charleston and Dorchester 2 parents can use to find carpools. Parents who don’t have access to a computer can call: (843) 529-0400 extension 202 for more information.
Individual schools have been asked to come up with specific plans for their students in case a strike is called. For more information, call your child’s school.
School district officials are communicating the latest information they have through the media and phone calls to parents. If parents aren’t receiving those messages, call your child’s school and ensure your information is updated.
Social media outlets for assistance:
On Twitter, follow @Diette or @postandcourier for the latest updates to media from both districts.
On Twitter, follow @cccsdconnects for the latest information from Charleston County schools and follow @dorchester_two for the latest from Dorchester 2 schools.
The community hashtag for updates on the potential driver strike is #chsbus
On Facebook, check www.facebook.com/diettecourrege and www.facebook.com/thepostandcourier for news updates.
On Facebook, follow Charleston County School District at www.facebook.com/CCSDconnects and follow Dorchester 2 at www.facebook.com/DorchesterSchoolDistrictTwo