The union representing Rockford school bus drivers has informed the school district that drivers have unanimously approved a strike.
220 bus drivers represented by AFSME Local 1275 ensure the transportation of more than 18,000 Rockford children to and from from their homes to more than 45 district sites each day. Drivers are asking for fair wages and more affordable health care.
Currently, full-time drivers start at a wage of $13,646 per year, with the average pay being $16,181 per year.
“As bus drivers we are responsible for all of Rockford’s school children, and in return we deserve fair pay and affordable health care for our own children,” said Tracy Goodwin, a Rockford school bus driver for 18 years and president of the drivers’ union.
Goodwin says the school board is trying to make drivers pay over 10 times more than what they’re already paying for family health coverage.
“We’ve negotiated, we’ve demonstrated, we’ve attended school board meetings, and the district says nice things in the newspaper but doesn’t budge at the table,” Goodwin said. “We don’t want to strike, but we’re willing to do it. We can’t go on like this, and as drivers we are united.”
The school district’s previous contract with the drivers expired June 30th. No strike date has been set. Negotiations between the drivers’ union bargaining team and district representatives are next scheduled for November 10th.