East Providence, Barrington school bus drivers reach tentative contract agreement

Teamsters Local 251 announces proposed pact with Ocean State Transit

Posted 1/22/20

EAST BAY — A tentative agreement was reached Tuesday night, Jan. 21, between school bus drivers for East Providence and Barrington represented by Teamsters Local 251 and Ocean State Transit, a …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


East Providence, Barrington school bus drivers reach tentative contract agreement

Teamsters Local 251 announces proposed pact with Ocean State Transit

Posted

EAST BAY — A tentative agreement was reached Tuesday night, Jan. 21, between school bus drivers for East Providence and Barrington represented by Teamsters Local 251 and Ocean State Transit, a subsidiary of Student Transportation of America (STA). A strike vote had been taken last week.

“Our coworkers will be very happy with this tentative agreement,” said Ocean State Transit Bus Driver Charlene Gomes. “They were willing to strike to get a fair deal and the company knew it.”

The group of 105 school bus drivers voted to join the Teamsters in May 2019. Last month 95 monitors and aides also joined the union. A date will be set soon for a ratification vote.

As of last week, Local 251 representatives were cautious about the state of the talks, saying they had stalled and that Ocean State was intractable in some of its stances on pay and benefits.

The bargaining unit went so far as to display their unity by gathering and attending the East Providence School Committee meeting on January 14.

That evening, union officials said a strike was not imminent and that they were hopeful the restart of negotiations the week prior would break the deadlock. They apparently did.

“Our rank-and-file committee members were invaluable in these negotiations; they knew the business inside and out and were able to prioritize the needs of the workers,” said Nick Williams, Local 251 Business Agent.

Added Local 251 Principal Officer Matthew Taibi, “We believe this tentative agreement recognizes the commitment the workers have to safely transporting our children every day. While we have a few minor details to work out, we anticipate that the workers will ratify this recommended tentative agreement, averting a strike. We appreciate the community support. We believe it was a big reason we were finally able to break through the last remaining issues and get a deal.

“We recently agreed on a new contract with STA/Ocean State in South Kingstown and we look forward to discussions for a new agreement in Coventry. We would like to thank the Teamsters Passenger Transportation Division for their support, especially from a national perspective. STA is the second largest school transportation company in the country, with contracts at many other Teamsters locals."

(Updated, Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m.) Reached for comment on the matter, East Providence Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Crowley said she was both pleased and relieved the impasse  has apparently been settled.

"I'm very happy that both sides were able to reach an agreement," Superintendent Crowley added. "I was very concerned for our students and the potential for a strike. And I'm relieved we do not have to develop an alternative plan and disrupt student learning."

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.