No settlement in bus driver dispute affecting Marlborough and Westborough


No settlement in bus driver dispute affecting Marlborough and Westborough
School bus drivers from Westborough and Marlborough, along with supporters, set up an information picket just before the School Committee meeting. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

WESTBOROUGH – After spending most of Friday and Saturday at the negotiating table, Teamsters Local 170 and NRT Bus appear no closer to a contract settlement.

Negotiations will resume later this morning.

“As of now all districts will be on strike on Monday, May 8,” said business agent Jim Marks. “Teamsters Local 170 remains available 24/7 to sit down if NRT wants to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”

The two sides met on Friday, May 5, focusing on a contract for the Framingham drivers. A spokesperson for NRT said the company offered a “lucrative” deal that would have increased wages for drivers, bus monitors and other positions. The spokesperson said the union turned down that offer, as well as a proposal from NRT to hold off on striking at all school districts if an agreement was reached for the Framingham drivers.

“NRT has negotiated in good faith with the Teamsters since bargaining began, offering to be available around the clock this past week to work on an agreement that would benefit the drivers and keep children in school,” according to a statement issued by NRT on Friday, May 5.

According to Marks, negotiations ended after nine hours without reaching an agreement.

“NRT made it clear the only reason they are here is because the Mayor of Framingham requested the parties to get back to the table,” Marks said.

“The Teamsters have countered to five proposals making well-considered changes,” said Marks. “NRT made it clear that they will not negotiate the Marlborough or Westborough district contracts.”

According to Marks, the Saturday session was attended by the local’s secretary treasurer/principal officer Shannon George, but not by senior officials from NRT – Senior Vice President Tim Sheehan and Director of Employee and Labor Relations Jeff Rainey.

“NRT as a whole is not interested in getting a deal done to avoid a strike,” said Marks.

Contingency plans

The school districts in all three affected communities have announced contingency plans in case a strike does take place.

In Marlborough, the plans call for the students who live within a 1.5-mile radius of the school to walk, and students outside of that radius will be expected to be dropped off.

In Westborough, the district has provided a series of consolidated locations for drop off and pickup.

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