A driver crossing the picket line of a Seattle school bus strike hit several picketers Wednesday, leading to one striking driver to jump on the hood. It came on a one-day strike in which drivers are seeking better health care.
Several videos from the scene shows drivers trying to stop the bus as it's coming out of the South Seattle bus barn. One woman then jumps on the hood. She eventually jumps off the bus and is nearly hit before the bus continues on with the rear emergency exit door open.
Someone was also heard yelling, "She's going to lose her job," likely in reference to the person driving the bus.
WOW. A First Student bus just drove through the picket line and a bus driver on strike jumped on the hood of a bus! The Seattle bus drivers strike is getting intense. pic.twitter.com/p8DHGbxKf0— Alex Rozier (@AlexRozierK5) November 29, 2017
No one knows where that driver was going and why it may be heading out. They are not sure if First Student may have sent that driver somewhere, but the union says it is clear that driver is against the strike. pic.twitter.com/8k8zzsqbYN— Alex Rozier (@AlexRozierK5) November 29, 2017
A striking driver named Olivia said the picketers are legally allowed to stall buses for two minutes then let them through.
"We were not being violent in any way. But she didn't stop. She just kept going intent on hurting and hitting people," Olivia said, claiming she was hit on her side. "It didn't need to get that point in any way and the people who were jumping on top of the bus and stuff like that where it got chaotic were trying to stop (the driver) from hurting people."
Several of the striking drivers say they have filed hit-and-run complaints. Olivia said she planned to seek criminal charges.
After the incident, the gates to the bus barn were closed.
The strike is over an “inferior” medical plan implemented for employees, according to the union that represents the drivers.
“First Student has had every opportunity to prevent this from happening, but instead of taking action to protect Seattle families from the headache of a strike, they have sat smugly back and continued to offer nothing of substance to our members at the bargaining table,” Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks said in a press release.
The union also claims First Student's unilateral implementation of a different medical plan is illegal, as healthcare is the subject of negotiations and cannot be changed without bargaining with the employee's union.
The one-day strike left parents scrambling to make other transportation plans for their kids.
"I saw so many people on our school's PTA Facebook site, people were saying, 'I live in Gatewood, I have two spots in my minivan, I live here, I live here,'" said parent Shawna Murphy Tuesday. "Even though they're saying it's a one-day strike, we want to be really prepared. So I have arrangements for Thursday and Friday as well."
For Murphy, that means a parent of one of her daughter's classmates will take her kids to school, because Murphy cannot leave work at that time of the day.
It's an inconvenience, but she's not angry about it. In fact, Murphy supports the strike.
"It's really important. These people are taking excellent care of my children. I believe they deserve fair wages and affordable health care," she said.
In a released statement, First Student said they had made efforts to "negotiate in good faith," but that the union has so far been unresponsive.
"Within the last two weeks, we offered Local 174 leadership additional funding for both healthcare and retirement. Union leadership chose not to present this offer to their membership. Both First Student and a federal mediator have reached out to Local 174 leadership in an effort to continue to negotiate in good faith. Those calls have not been returned," wrote a spokesperson for First Student.
The union has been in negotiations with First Student over healthcare and retirement plans since July.
More than 400 First Student school bus drivers participated in the strike. Late Wednesday, a spokespersion for Teamsters 174 said bus service will resume Thursday.
“If we need to take this group out on strike again, the chaos and disruption will not last just one day,” Hicks said.
Of the 53,000 students in the Seattle School District, 12,000 ride First Student buses.
“We are deeply disappointed that negotiations between First Student and the union have resulted in a strike," a Seattle Public Schools spokesperson said in a statement. "Even a one-day work stoppage will be disruptive to the families of the 12,000 students who ride a First Student bus."
Bus service throughout the district was impacted.
Full statement by First Student:
We’re very disappointed Teamsters Local 174 leadership chose to disrupt transportation for children to and from Seattle schools tomorrow. We know what a hardship this interruption is to the families who rely on our service.
Last year, we worked with Local 174 leadership on a new collective bargaining agreement. The agreement, which was ratified by union members in August of 2016, included a significant wage increase of up to 20 percent, and a top wage of more than $24 an hour.
Within the last two weeks, we offered Local 174 leadership additional funding for both healthcare and retirement. Union leadership chose not to present this offer to their membership.
Both First Student and a federal mediator have reached out to Local 174 leadership in an effort to continue to negotiate in good faith. Those calls have not been returned.
Our responsibility is to transport students to and from school each and every day. We regret that the actions of Local 174 leadership make this impossible tomorrow.
We want to get back to doing what we do best as quickly as possible, and that is providing transportation for Seattle schools and our students and families.
We strongly encourage the union to join us in finding a resolution. We remain ready and available to return to the negotiating table.