Strike OK'd; students not stranded

Posted: Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Central Kenai Peninsula school bus drivers voted to authorize a strike Monday.

Union employees at First Student, the contracted company that provides busing services for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, voted 88-5 to reject the latest contract submitted by their employer.

Parents shouldn't necessarily plan on having to find a ride for their students just yet, though.

"It doesn't mean we'll strike tomorrow," said Rick Traini, executive director of Teamsters Union 959, based in Anchorage. "But it gives us the authorization to."

Traini said there had not been a definite decision as to if or when the drivers would strike. He also said it was unclear how much warning district officials would have if drivers chose to strike.

"If there were a strike, one of the things we have to consider is the effectiveness of the strike," Traini said.

The strike would lack effectiveness if First Student were to fly in drivers from out of state he said.

Dave Jones, assistant superintendent of the district, said last week that the district had not made contingency plans. The district is not involved in the negotiations between the bus drivers and First Student.

"We really feel strongly we need sufficient notice to be able to notify parents in the district of whatever it is we're going to have to do. If they decide they're going to strike we need to be notified," Jones said.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com.



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