Will Rhinebeck school bus drivers be on strike Monday?

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Following the unilateral imposition of contract terms by the bus company and a failure of federal mediation, it appears the unionized employees of Dunham School Services may be on strike next week.

The following letter was sent by Joseph Phelan, Superintendent of Schools of Rhinebeck Central School district.

March 28, 2013

Parents of Rhinebeck Central School District Students,

This e-mail will serve to keep you apprised and updated about the ongoing contract negotiations between Durham School Services, the company with whom our school district has contracted to provide transportation services to our students for the past several years, and Teamsters Local 445, which represents Durham’s bus drivers and bus monitors.

Through several earlier e-mails, we have been keeping you apprised of the ongoing negotiations between these two parties. Since the bus drivers and bus monitors are employees of Durham School Services, and are not employees of the Rhinebeck Central School District, the school district is not, and cannot be, involved in these private sector contract negotiations between Durham School Services and Teamsters Local 445.

Most recently, on March 18, 2013, Durham management and the Teamsters met with a Federal mediator in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve their differences at the bargaining table. Later last week, on Friday, March 22, Teamsters Local 445 informed the Rhinebeck Central School District and the other school districts that contract with Durham for transportation services that they intend to begin a strike shortly after students return from spring break.

In spite of this threat, the school district’s goal is to make its best effort to maintain the integrity of the daily school schedule, the District’s excellent instructional program, and its outstanding support services on behalf of Rhinebeck’s students. Durham has informed the District that they have developed contingency plans in the event of a strike or other job action in response to the Teamsters’ strike vote this past Fall. In the interest of Rhinebeck’s children and their education, the District urges parents to be prepared for this job action being threatened by the Teamsters by making contingency plans. This would involve making alternative arrangements to transport their children to and from school, should that become necessary.

In the event of any disruption to the usual transportation arrangements, the District will communicate to parents through the District web site (www.rhinebeckcsd.org), through letters, and through the usual methods of emergency notifications, including SchoolMessenger and local radio stations. The District continues to remain optimistic that cooler heads will prevail and that these negotiations will continue and will be concluded successfully without further threat of disruption to the school schedule, the District’s instructional program, and District support services.

Sincerely,

Joseph L. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools

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