Mediator to meet with union, First Student in effort to end bus strike
SEATTLE - A meeting later Thursday could bring an end to the Seattle school bus drivers' strike as both sides sit down with a federal mediator for the first time.
The strike, now in its sixth day, has put parents and students in a bind on how to get to school. Nearly 12,000 students in the Seattle school district rely on the buses, operated by contractor First Student, to get to classes.
Drivers represented by the Teamsters union have been striking for better health care and retirement benefits after they failed to reach agreement with First Student during months of negotiations.
Now, for the first time since drivers walked off the job last week, a federal mediator will sit down with both sides in an effort to find an agreement that's acceptable to both sides.
First Student has said its latest offer is fair and they want union members to vote on it. But striking drivers say the offer falls far short of their expectations.
Some drivers have been crossing picket lines during the strike, enabling First Student to provide bus service to some students, with an emphasis on transportation for students with special needs.
But the majority of drivers have honored the strike, forcing families to find other ways of getting their kids to class.