Bus drivers for Charleston County public schools backed away from their threatened strike on Saturday, removing a dark cloud over the district, its students and their parents. As the community breathes a collective sigh of relief, local legislators should see what they can do to prevent such a shutdown from ever happening.
And if they determine that their hands are tied, the district should abandon privatization in this instance and return to the state school bus system when possible.
It might not be an optimal option, but it would eliminate the future threat of a strike that could disrupt the school year for thousands of students.
Drivers employed by the district or state are public employees and can’t strike under state law.
That’s as it should be.
By an overwhelming margin of 138-9, the bus drivers, members of the Teamsters union, voted not to strike. The drivers’ decision followed the lead of their counterparts in Dorchester and Beaufort counties, who voted to accept new contracts last week.
The drivers in all three counties are employed by Durham School Services, which operates the bus systems for the local districts. Consequently, the negotiations were between Durham and union members.
That made the situation doubly frustrating, because district officials couldn’t do anything to keep the drivers on the road.
That can’t be allowed to happen again, even if the district has to jettison privatization.
The possibility of a strike is not an acceptable condition of giving up control over school buses that are bought with taxpayer money, and a system that is operated solely with public funds.