MARLBOROUGH – With a potential school bus driver strike looming, the superintendent for Marlborough Public Schools is urging both sides to reach a settlement.
Mary Murphy issued a statement on May 4 regarding a possible strike by members of the Teamsters Local 170 who are responsible for transporting thousands of students to school each day.
“Marlborough Public Schools are demanding North Reading Transportation and Teamsters Local 170 come to terms on a new contract and stop putting their own interests ahead of the more than 4,700 students of Marlborough,” said Murphy.
Murphy noted that NRT is owned by Beacon Mobility, which is a devision of Audax Private Equity of Boston and invests in companies to “drive value creation” and “accelerate results.”
“Haggling with bus drivers over wages to build profits for investors is simply not right. At the same time Local 170 drivers are among the highest paid school bus drivers in the Commonwealth,” said Murphy.
She noted that as of Jan. 1, the drivers received an hourly increase from $26.50 to a minimum of $34 an hour, which she said is more than $2 an hour above the statewide prevailing wage for drivers.
However, union representative Jim Marks previously told the Community Advocate that NRT has taken away time from the drivers.
“The $34 that the school district gave them, really they’re not giving them because when you take away 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, that’s 20 minutes,” Marks said.
“Marlborough Public Schools are committed to educating the children in our district,” said Murphy. “School buses are an integral part of executing that mission and sustaining a thriving and equitable education system. For thousands of our students, access to the school bus is the safest and most reliable way to get to school.”
Murphy said that should a strike begin on Monday, May 8, classes would not be canceled.
“However, the learning disruption that will be created by a strike is not only unnecessary, but will disproportionately impact a student population where almost 75% are categorized as high-needs students. More than half of our students rely on our schools to provide breakfast and lunch, and many others receive mental health services. Every minute in school is critical.
“Enough is enough. We ask all citizens of Marlborough to join us in urging NRT and Local 170 to come to an agreement before they impact our students,” she said.
On Thursday, April 27, the Teamsters issued a 10-day notice to school systems in Westborough, Marlborough and Framingham on their intent to strike unless a deal was reached with NRT.