More developments in the Las Cruces school bus drivers saga. On Tuesday, nearly 100 bus drivers and attendants picketed outside of the contractor’s business. This picket comes just days after an emergency motion was filed by the unions. Members of the unions say they will continue picketing to stand up for student safety.
“We’ve got drivers here with as many as 46 years… so we’re committed to see a change,” says President of the local Las Cruces Transportation Federation Marcos Torres. “It’s been a long…many years since children were truly safe on buses and since company’s really did what they needed to do to make sure that that happened.”
As we reported, the unions are demanding higher wages, safer buses and better policies. Negotiations between the unions and the company contracted by the district to provide bus services, STS-NM, have continuously fallen through. Last week the unions planned to strike but were stopped when the district filed a temporary restraining order. On Friday, the unions filed an emergency motion to quash the order.
“For two years we tried working with this company, and telling them and telling the school district on what needed to change and we’re at the point where we can’t stand for it anymore,” President of AFT-NM Stephanie Ly says.
The general manager of the contractor company, Van Wamel, who did not want to go on camera, says their services follow all New Mexico rules and regulations and that they are 100 percent compliant. Wamel says they have been through all negotiations, but the groups can’t come to an agreement.
And despite what happens on April 12th, the superintendent of the school district says services from the contractor will still be expected.
“It’s a different tension when it’s outside of our control, however, very clearly, my expectation, the expectation I have of this contract, which is dutifully and legally signed is that we have service, unbroken for all of the rest of this school year,” says superintendent Stan Rounds.
The union groups say they were going to bring another proposal to the contractor on Tuesday, to see if a deal can be made. If no deal is made, they will likely face off in court on April 12th. On that day, the judge will also hear the emergency motion.