School bus driver strike looming in Seattle

SEATTLE -- Seattle Public Schools is preparing for a potential school bus driver strike that could come with little or no warning to parents.

Contract negotiations between drivers and First Student, the company that contracts with Seattle Schools to provide all student transportation, broke down last week after First Student presented their last, best and final offer.

Michael Gonzales with the Teamsters Local Union 174 saID the offer cuts retirement and sick days to just two per year, while it increases the cost of health care benefits.

"It's unacceptable," he said. "I cannot promise there will be a bus there next week to pick up their kid."

The strike would affect more than 400 drivers who transport 22,881 general education students and 4,485 special education students.

In response, First Student spokesperson, Stephanie A. Creech, released this statement:

"First Student is continuing to negotiate in good faith with Teamsters Local #174. We are confident we will reach an agreement that is in the best interest of all parties. Our next negotiation meeting is set for February 27," the statement reads.

Seattle Public Schools released its own statement on the matter, saying school officials are in regular communications with First Student.

"We have not been notified that the Teamsters National has invoked a cooling-off period, which is the next step prior to any strike being called. In the event of a strike, our contract with First Student requires the company to provide replacement drivers to minimize the impact on the yellow bus transportation services that we provide to our nearly 28,000 students every day," the statement reads.