By Kalinowski, Tim on November 27, 2019.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 987 is lending its support to local school boards which are affected by city council’s decision to discontinue delivery of school bus services after the 2019-20 school year.
“We disagree with the decision council has made,” said Travis Oberg, president of the local ATU which also represents the City-employed school bus drivers impacted by the decision. “It’s going to have a huge impact on our community. The City of Lethbridge and the school boards have been in partnership for over the last 50 years, providing an integrated cost-recovery system. So we are pretty shocked council would make this decision without any public consultation. Ultimately, if those goes out to a private (busing) provider, we’re going to lose taxpayer money, which is directed for the service, that is going to be filtered off into private for-profit.”
Oberg said he has 60 drivers whose jobs are now on the line and the ATU is considering its next steps.
“We have already started discussions with our legal counsel to find our rights as this moves forward, but there are 60 operators who come to work every day and rely on this income to put food on the table for their families,” he said. “We are encouraging all parents that are going to be affected by this change to contact city council and express their frustrations with this decision to council.”
Mayor Chris Spearman acknowledged the City’s decision to end its contract with local school boards would have an impact on these drivers. However, he felt whatever entity took over the service would need experienced drivers.
“Whether they (school divisions) run the system, or whether they contract the system out, those drivers and buses will be needed,” Spearman said. “I don’t think they will be out of work. We need Class 2 drivers in the City of Lethbridge to drive school buses. They just might not be employed by the City of Lethbridge.”
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