Mediator to meet with striking school bus drivers, company

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Striking school bus drivers in Providence and the private company overseeing the city’s school bus operations are meeting with a federal mediator.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at the mediator’s office in Warwick.

Drivers are picketing near the yard in Providence where the company, First Student, keeps buses. The strike began Sept. 27 due to a dispute over retirement benefits.

The drivers’ union, Teamsters Local 251, wants the company to commit to a Teamsters pension. First Student wants drivers to participate in a 401(k).

The strike is affecting more than 9,000 students and officials say school attendance has dropped. The city isn’t providing alternative transportation.

Advocates for people with disabilities say that failing to provide transportation for about 1,000 special education students violates federal law.

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