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Union reaches deal, contracted bus drivers will be back behind the wheel

Union reaches deal, contracted bus drivers will be back behind the wheel
Students exit a bus at Clark Magnet High School. Contracted bus drivers have been on strike in Glendale Unified for almost two weeks. (File Photo / Glendale News-Press)

After a strike that lasted almost two weeks, members of Teamsters Local 572 ratified a contract Wednesday, clearing the way for contracted bus drivers to return to Glendale Unified routes.

The school district contracts school bus service with First Student Inc., a bus transportation company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that employs local union drivers.

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Teamsters Local 572 — the Carson-based union with roughly 11,500 members — went on strike with First Student on Jan. 18 over allegations of unfair business practices, said Dennis Watson, the union's president, when drivers first went on strike.

Local bus drivers will return to work on Thursday, according to school officials.

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"[Glendale Unified] is working to close out charter bus contracts and transition bus routes back to First Student. We expect all Clark Magnet [High School] and most special education bus routes, as well as all athletic and field trip buses, to be operated by First Student by Monday," said Kristine Nam, spokeswoman for the district, in a statement. "ALC Student Transportation Solutions will continue to serve some GUSD special education students."

Students affected by the strike included about 930 students at Clark Magnet High School and 400 special education students across the district.

All Clark routes were covered this past week, with one First Student bus and 14 charter buses, according to Kristine Nam, spokeswoman for the school district.

As of last Friday, the district had 23 First Student buses operating for special education routes, Nam said, adding that starting Monday, the district had expected to have approximately 52 special education students transported by ALC transportation services.

"We appreciate the patience of the community and our school district partners during this time," said Jay Brock, a First Student spokesman, in an email. "We look forward to getting back to doing what we do best: safely transporting school students to and from school."

Twitter: @lamarkkellam

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