Bus drivers with the largest school district in eastern Iowa are upset at what they say is a gutting of their contract just weeks before school starts in the fall.
School bus drivers with the Cedar Rapids Community School District, who are covered by the Teamsters Local 238 union, also say they’re concerned the district has spent more than $250,000 in the last three years on the law firm Lynch Dallas, which handles the district’s contract negotiations.
That money paid to the law firm “has resulted in a deterioration of rights for school bus drivers,” said Jesse Case, secretary/treasurer of Teamsters Local 238.
The total amount the district paid to the firm over the last 36 months was $257,813, according to an email from a district employee shared with Iowa Starting Line.
According to the union, bus drivers used to have the following provisions in their contract they say the school district has now taken out:
- Defined work days and work weeks, including definitions for school closures, early dismissals, delayed starts and more
- Leaves of absence, including medical, military and disability leave
- Bidding procedure
- Recall rights
- Notification of reduction in employment
“We are asking them to restore this language,” said Case. “A majority of school board members filled out questionnaires with the Hawkeye Labor Council stating they supported public sector bargaining rights, but so far have done nothing to restore this language.”
A message to the school district seeking comment was not immediately returned.
The union plans to pressure school board members to restore that contract language at their next school board meeting at 5:15 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8. The meeting will take place at 2500 Edgewood Road NW in Cedar Rapids, and officials encouraged the public to attend.
“Union busting is disgusting, especially when it is done by a supposedly ‘union friendly’ school board,” union officials said in announcing it.
By Amie Rivers
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