School bus driver strike continues in Marlboro after no deal made on Monday

MARLBORO, Mass. — The bus company NRT and the drivers’ union didn’t come together to negotiate Monday, so with no deal on a contract, bus drivers plan to go on strike once again Tuesday.

“We don’t typically do walking and drop-off, we use the bus since it’s really convenient for us and our family and we usually get him normally around 4 o’clock, so that usually helps with childcare,” said Kayti Corfield, a mother who has a son in kindergarten.

While the debate over contracts continues between NRT Bus and Teamsters Local Union 170, families are caught in the middle trying to figure out other ways to get their kids to school.

“I think we’re gonna be fine, but I do worry about the kids who really rely on Marlborough school district to get food, to you know, really come to a safe space every day and I wonder about them,” said Corfield.

Lots of families walked to school or drove instead, causing a huge backup in traffic on the roads during pickup and drop-off Monday, while more than a dozen bus drivers and union members picketed outside the schools.

“This is their livelihood, they have to take care of their families send their kids to school through college, put a roof over their heads all on these monies, and I’m taking issue with the mayor seeming to take sides with the company,” said Ken Bergen, a business agent for Teamsters Local Union 170.

Marlborough’s mayor says he’s frustrated with the union while city and school leaders figure out ways to get some buses in motion for kids who need to get to school while this strike continues.

This is also MCAS exam week for some students.

“We pay them 34 dollars an hour to get kids to school safely, the union pays their people to strike to disrupt the education of our kids,” said Mayor Arthur Vigeant.

“The hourly rate would be fine but they’re reducing the hours, so they’re squeezing more money for their corporate profits,” said Bergen.

An NRT Bus spokesperson released a statement early Monday morning, saying in part:

“Let me be clear, the negotiations have been centered around part-time jobs that currently are paying $34.00 per hour in Marlborough.”  an NRT spokesperson said. “This current compensation structure already places those drivers at the top of School Bus Driver compensation range across the State of Massachusetts.”

At this point there’s no plan on when the two sides will negotiate once again, so it’s unclear how long this strike could last.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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