Worcester bus drivers put off strike ahead of Monday’s school start

WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Negotiations between Worcester Public Schools and the union that represents the district’s bus drivers broke down Sunday, but an agreement has been reached to work without a contract ahead of Monday’s school start.

The Teamsters 170 Union had originally threatened a strike on the first day of school if a new deal wasn’t struck, but officials told 7News that an arrangement was worked out with Worcester’s mayor to work through Wednesday.

That means the roughly 130 bus drivers will continue working as normal to buy the sides negotiating time.

Shannon George, the secretary treasurer for Local 170, told 7News that the bus company, Durham School Services, invited union leaders back to the negotiating table today. George says he was hopeful for a deal, but talks broke down and representatives walked out Sunday afternoon.

“The issues that are left, I don’t want to get into,” George said. “But they’re not big issues. I mean, I thought for sure we would reach an agreement today. I had every expectation that we would. I was very surprised that they would just get up and walk out.”

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty released a statement Sunday:

“I have offered to work with both sides to find a fair and equitable solution to this ongoing contract dispute. Schools will be opening Monday morning as scheduled and Local 170 members will be there to transport our students.”

7News reached out to Durham School Services for comment, but officials said they cannot comment while negotiations are ongoing.

George says he’s ready to come to the table all night if need be.

Though a strike has been avoided for now, George says he won’t rule out a strike if a deal isn’t reached by Wednesday.

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