Charleston County residents no longer have to worry about a school bus driver strike.

Union school bus drivers in Charleston agreed 138 to 9 today to accept a new five-year contract from their employer, Durham School Services.

“The members seemed happy,” said L.D. Fletcher, president of Teamsters Local 509, which represents school bus drivers in Beaufort, Charleston and Dorchester 2.

Union drivers in Beaufort and Dorchester 2 approved their offers from the company earlier this week. The three Lowcountry school districts hired Durham School Services to employ bus drivers and manage bus routes.

Negotiations between the union and Durham on a new employment contract started last July and simmered for months.

Talks escalated in January after the union's membership authorized its leadership to call a strike, if necessary. The union later told Durham it would not strike while talks were continuing, and both sides have been mostly silent during the past few weeks.

The biggest issue had been drivers' pay and benefits.

Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy J. McGinley issued a statement expressing the district's relief that the drivers and Durham reached an agreement. She said buses will operate as normal on Monday.

“I applaud the leadership and our drivers for resolving this situation without a work stoppage,” McGinley said. “This situation was stressful, but it was a great reminder of the positive power of community. Your preparedness and willingness to help was outstanding. It's going to be a busy spring, and soon this will seem like it's far in the past, but I wanted to take this moment to share my gratitude with everyone in the community.”