More than 7,000 students may not have a ride to school on Friday because of a potential bus driver strike. On Tuesday, the Las Cruces Transportation Federation voted unanimously to go on strike against STS-NM, the group contracted by the district to provide bus services.
“I’ve heard through the grape vine that they do complain that they are doing more than two jobs per their employment,” says mother of two Rachel Maese. Maese says throughout the years, she’s heard about concerns of bus drivers in the district.
“They need help and they also need more raises…for them to do the jobs that they do. and the people that they hire. I mean they are hiring people that basically have to have good background checks… I know that’s one of the policies,” Maese says.
“I can’t say that they’re just refusing. They are coming to the table too. we just haven’t arrived at anything we see, we recognize that’s going to change the current situation,” says president of the Las Cruces Federation Local #6341, Marcos Torres.
The federation is asking for higher wages, safer buses and equipment, and also better polices that adhere to New Mexico law. In a press conference on Wednesday, superintendent Stan Rounds made it clear that the bus drivers are employed by the contractor and not the school district. He says the students are the ones being most affected.
“I must say the bus company and drivers need to realize they are not putting students first that in my view should be their number one priority,” says Rounds. But Torres has a different sentiment.
“Absolutely we think of the children because we feel all along they have not been as safe as they need to be and it can’t continue,” Torres says.
Maese says she hopes the two parties can come to an agreement..and soon. “I hope they can correct this because Friday is going to be busy.. I feel sorry about the parents who don’t know about this.”
The superintendent says contingency plans are in place if an agreement isn’t made between the two groups. Part of that plan included asking parents to pick up and drop off their students at their respective schools. The contractor says they’re doing the best they can to come up with an agreement and that all lines of communication are open.