SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With concerns about COVID safety, being paid for the hours they actually work and retirement benefits, Savannah-Chatham County school bus drivers hit the picket line last Friday.
By Tuesday, dozens called out sick. By Wednesday, most were back on the job.
“We don’t have a choice, because we’ve got families to feed as well,” said one driver, who wanted to remain anonymous. “We’ve had people call to give threats to get back to work, and if they didn’t come back to work they could be fired.”
Several drivers told WSAV News 3 that reports of an agreement between bus drivers and the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) aren’t completely accurate. They claim the union reached a deal with the district, but not one that many drivers support.
“They’re supposed to be out there protecting us and coming with us, but they’re calling people and taking them away from what matters to us,” the anonymous driver said of the Atlanta-based Teamsters union that represents Savannah-Chatham County bus drivers.
In a statement released Wednesday, SCCPSS said as a government entity, they can’t negotiate with unions. However, the Teamsters tell WSAV that’s not the whole story, but have yet to explain what they discussed with the district.
In the meantime, some drivers are looking for a way out.
“People are here now, but they’re looking for other opportunities, they’re looking for other jobs,” the driver said, adding, “they might have to take a pay decrease, but at least they’ll be able to see their money. They’ll feel safer in those conditions.”
SCCPSS said 17 of its 245 drivers called out sick Wednesday and all routes were covered.