The 50 Hayward Unified school bus drivers who work with special needs kids ratified a new contract with Storer in January and it’s the best these drivers have ever seen.
“This was essentially a new contract,” explains Business Rep Tracy Kelley. Previously, Durham School Services held the contract with the Hayward schools. “But when Storer won the bid in 2018, they just added wage increases to the previous contract with the goal of creating their own contract once that one expired.”
Kelley says that when the pandemic hit, schools closed immediately and these drivers were hit hard. “They stopped working in March 2020 and didn’t come back until August of 2021.” When the contract expired in the midst of the pandemic, the union opted to extend it indefinitely, “because we had no idea when or if these drivers would get back to work. We reopened the contract in October of 2021 and resumed negotiations as work started to return to normal.”
Ultimately, the five-year contract provides significant economic gains for the drivers. After a large initial wage bump, the drivers will get sizeable wage increases through the end of the contract. “This makes them the second-highest-paid school bus drivers in the Bay Area, next to San Francisco,” says Kelley. The non-commercial non-school bus drivers will also see a significant raise. In addition, the contract includes an increase in the health care allowance and additional days of paid time off (PTO).
“School bus drivers were probably the hardest hit among all transportation drivers,” Kelley says. “We fought hard to bring up their wages so they could deal with the high cost of living in this area. Hopefully, by achieving area standards, some of the burden of inflation will be tempered.”
Kelley particularly wanted to recognize and thank Yareny Gonzalez and Joline Knott for representing the members on the negotiating committee and communicating the progress of the talks back to the members. “They stepped up to be on the bargaining team after two long-time stewards had recently left, one retiring and one on a leave of absence. They did an outstanding job.”
Closing out, Kelley adds that “it’s good to see the company recognize the services that our members provide to their clients every day. This contract puts them in a great position to improve their wages even further next time.”