Potential Bus Strike Mon., Oct. 1

Potential+Bus+Strike+Mon.%2C+Oct.+1

Bus service may stop when the collective bargaining agreement between the bus drivers’ union and Dattco expires on Oct. 1.

Aaron Hendel, Sports Editor

This post has been updated as of Sun., Sept. 30. 

Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon warned parents on Thurs., Sept. 27 in an email that the school bus drivers may go on strike on Mon., Oct. 1.

The drivers are in a dispute with the bus company service, Dattco, over the collective bargaining agreement between the company and the drivers’ union. The agreement is currently set to expire at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
Landon was urgent in his memo, suggesting the seriousness of the matter.

“THERE WILL NOT BE BUS SERVICE to transport your children to and from school beginning Monday morning” if a new agreement is not reached by then, he said in the email.

“I urge you to make every effort to have your children arrive at school approximately 30 minutes prior to their normal school start times,” Landon continued. In addition, he suggested carpooling as a means of transportation, and also noted that the Westport Police Department will provide more officers to direct traffic and ensure safety of drivers and pedestrians.

According to the email, if the strike does indeed take place, a phone call will be sent to all households with children in the public school system. If, however, the strike is avoided, a message will be posted on the snow line, (203) 341-1766, and another email will be sent to parents in the district.

In addition, Dattco and the United Food and Commercial Workers sent out a three-paragraph press release on Fri., Sept. 28, which said that both sides will continue to work tirelessly in order to get a deal done by the deadline. Efforts thus far included the hiring of a federal mediator “to help facilitate discussions and reduce outstanding issues in a fair and timely manner,” the release said.

“Our highest priority is insuring that Westport school children have safe and reliable transportation to and from school each and every day,” reiterated DATTCO Chief Operating Officer Cliff Gibson in the release. “It is our intention to bargain in good faith and reach a settlement, so that there will be no interruption of service when school opens on Monday.”
This is a breaking news update and will be revised as further information is released. 

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Official Press Release:

BUS COMPANY SAYS NEGOTIATIONS CAN CONTINUE
-DATTCO TRANSPORTATION IN NEGOTATIONS-

(WESTPORT, CT)– September 27, 2012- The pending expiration of the labor agreement between school bus drivers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and DATTCO, Inc. brought the comment from DATTCO officials, “ the company will work around the clock if necessary, to reach agreement with the Union prior to the September 30th expiration of the Labor contract. “DATTCO has held the Westport Board of Education transportation contract since 1997.
“Our highest priority is ensuring that Westport school children have safe and reliable transportation to and from school each and every day” said DATTCO Chief Operating Officer Cliff Gibson. “We have done our part to meet regularly with Union officials to resolve contract issues, and we will continue to meet over the weekend, to keep our drivers – whom we highly respect – behind the wheel.”
Gibson emphasized that DATTCO brought a federal mediator into negotiations earlier this week to help facilitate discussions and reduce outstanding issues in a fair and timely manner. In the event that negotiations could not be completed by the deadline, DATTCO has offered to continue negotiating under a temporary contract extension, to ensure that Wesport’s children are safely transported to their schools.“We are open to alternatives that will keep our dedicated employees working, and will provide uninterrupted transportation services to the students and families. We remain hopeful that dialogue will continue between the Union and DATTCO and that both parties demonstrate a commitment to act in the best interest of the children and their families. It is our intention to bargain in good faith and reach a settlement, so that there will be no interruption of service when school opens on Monday. We will continue to strive to ensure that is the case. “
ABOUT DATTCO
Established in 1924, DATTCO is a family owned business headquartered in New Britain, Connecticut. With over 1400 employees and 19 office, terminal and service facility locations, DATTCO is one of the leading transportation companies in New England.