WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — School buses were seen rolling through the streets of Warwick Monday morning.
In an email to parents Monday morning, the Warwick School District said the administration confirmed with First Student that all busses will be running.
Sunday night, the school district said they were “highly optimistic” that school busses would be bringing students to and from school, but if there was any concern, parents would be notified as quickly as possible.
This coming after students were left stranded on Friday, with parents waking up to an abrupt email from the school department.
The district said the busing company, First Student, was unable to provide transportation services to students due to a union labor issue. At the time high school buses had already left, but there was no elementary or middle school busing and no afternoon pickup for all students.
The bus drivers union told 12 News that drivers showed up for work and instead were told by First Student to go home.
Bus drivers then rallied outside the First Student bus yard as it was filled with empty buses that were put back in their parking spots.
In a statement to 12 News, First Student claims the school department made the decision to cancel transportation on Friday after a number of drivers called out.
Steve Sousa, the union’s secretary treasurer, said the same number of drivers called out on Monday, but people picked up extra shifts to cover the routes.
Not only is there a nationwide bus driver shortage, but this also comes as First Student and the drivers union deal with ongoing contract negotiations.
A spokesperson for First Student says the bus company and the drivers union have signed a contract extension with a no-strike clause through Friday.
“If we don’t sign an extension a lot of people are worried about striking but there’s also a cool off period, so you can’t really strike right away anyway, but that’s not what the union’s looking to do,” Sousa said. “We just want them to be fair to the members, and hopefully we can come up with a fair resolution to the contract.”
The two groups will be meeting with a mediator on Thursday to see if they can come up with an agreement.