Bus Drivers Back to School after 'Sick Out' - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Bus Drivers Back to School after 'Sick Out'

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) Palm Beach County School buses are rolling again, one day after 26 drivers staged a sick-out. They called in sick to call attention to what they say are low wages and little respect. The drivers only amount to about four percent of the district's 600 plus drivers; however, it was enough to delay ten bus routes in Royal Palm Beach.

"I think that's wrong and I think that they should get in trouble for that," said Vanessa Lind, whose children attend Meadow Park Elementary School in West Palm Beach.

Lind lives close enough to walk her children to and from school, but she and other parents are still upset.

"If they did ride the bus, I would be really mad about that," she added, "especially if you're a parent waiting for the bus and the bus never shows."

"That's not right," said Stephanie Colon, who has children who ride the bus. "They should lose their job. They should lose their job."

Palm Beach County School District officials haven't said if those drivers will be disciplined.

Jane Brown Holmes didn't take part in Monday's sick-out. She says she and other drivers haven't had a pay raise in nearly seven years. Most drivers make between $11 and $15 an hour. While she'd like to see more money and respect, she doesn't think the sick out is the way to do it.

"Right now, our contract is open for bargaining and with this being open for bargaining we can implement what we want," she said. "We can ask for a raise."

As a parent herself, she said she likes caring for children.

"We've got to keep them safe," she said. We've got to get them to school on time and we've got to get them back home safe. We look out for their well-being. If they get sick on the bus, we're there for them. If problems happen on the bus, we are the referee on the bus. We are basically the caretakers."

"The situation that happened yesterday, I think is much smaller than most people realized," explained Alphonso Mayfield, the president of SEIU - Florida Public Services Union Local that represents many of the drivers.

"It looked like it was just a handful of rogue actors who actually did it," he explained.

Mayfield said the union is committed to working with the district in next month's negotiations to help the drivers and most of all, the students.

"We primarily want to focus on a way that the kids are well served and that the employees are going to have what they need to do their jobs."

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