School bus driver strike in Framingham averted

A contract deal has been reached, averting a school bus driver strike that had been anticipated in Framingham, the City mayor announced Sunday.

NRT Bus and Teamsters Union Local 170 negotiated for nine hours on Saturday, but no deal had been reached on Saturday.

Both sides met again on Sunday to discuss the contract for bus drivers in Marlborough’s school district.

The bus company told Boston 25 News drivers in these three cities are already in the top 10% of driver wages across the state, but they are still offering significant raises, including a 13.65% raise for drivers in Framingham. The union said the company is moving to cut their weekly hours, which they do not support.

All three districts expected to keep schools open even if the drivers had decided to go on strike.

At certain points, each side had earlier accused the other of walking away from the bargaining table.

On Saturday, the union sent Boston 25 News the following statement: Teamsters and NRT resumed negotiations today at 1 p.m. for the Framingham District and tonight after 9 hours of negotiating we did not reach an agreement. NRT Made it clear the only reason they are here is that the Mayor of Framingham requested the parties to get back to the table. Senior Vice President Tim Sheehan and Director Employee & Labor Relations Jeff Rainey for NRT were missing from negotiations and NRT as a whole is not interested in getting a deal done to avoid a strike. Teamsters Local 170 Secretary-Treasurer/Principal Officer Shannon George from the Teamsters was present and willing to help resolve the issues remaining on the table. The Teamsters have countered to 5 proposals making well-considered changes. NRT made it clear that they will not negotiate the Marlborough or Westborough district contracts. As of now, all districts will be on strike on Monday, May 8th. Teamsters Local 170 remains available 24/7 to sit down if NRT wants to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”

On Saturday, the bus company sent Boston 25 News the following statement:

“Twenty-four hours ago, the Teamsters rejected a lucrative offer for the Framingham School District drivers and walked away from the bargaining table, ending negotiations. Today at 1:15 p.m., NRT returned to the table, ready to resume negotiations. Responding to a personal plea from the Mayor of Framingham to put the needs of the children first and try to reach an agreement, negotiations between NRT and the Teamsters have resumed.”

According to a spokesperson, Framingham Public Schools was prepared to transport students to school via all possible efforts including any available NRT buses provided by the company’s administration, the use of two small passenger vans owned by the district, and routes operated by the MetroWest Regional Transportation Authority (MWRTA) in addition to any parent-organized carpooling efforts.

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

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