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Glendale Unified bus service suspended amid driver strike with contractor

Glendale Unified bus service suspended amid driver strike with contractor
Clark Magnet High School students unload from a school bus at the school in 2009. (SCOTT SMELTZER / NEWS-PRESS)

Glendale Unified officials were abruptly notified Thursday morning that the company it contracts with to provide bus service to local schools called a strike that morning, and as a result have asked parents of affected students to arrange alternative transportation.

The school district contracts school bus service with First Student Inc., a bus transportation company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that employs local union drivers. Teamsters Local 572 — the Carson-based union with roughly 11,500 members — is on strike with First Student over allegations of unfair business practices, said Dennis Watson, the union's president.

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Watson said the union "will stay on the picket line" until a collective bargaining agreement is reached.

According to Kristine Nam, a spokeswoman for Glendale Unified, said those impacted by the strike include about 930 students at Clark Magnet High School and 400 special education students across the district. Students scheduled for a field trip, athletic competition and middle school after-school sports programs were also affected.

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About 1,200 students at Pasadena Unified School District were also left without school-bus service, according to Pasadena Now.

"We didn't know until very late this morning that the strike was happening," Nam said . "We scrambled to get the message out to parents."

In an 8:30 a.m. alert to Glendale Unified parents, school officials said some bus drivers crossed the picket line and intermittent service was available but that parents should arrange their own transportation, if possible. Absences and tardies stemming from the lack of bus service will be excused, the alert stated.

Nam said Glendale Unified has arranged charter buses for athletic competitions and for sixth-grade students at La Crescenta Elementary returning from a camp Friday.

Field trips and travel associated with after-school sports programs were canceled for the rest of the week.

By 2:30 p.m., parents were notified that bus service would be suspended all day Friday and alternative travel plans should be made. Glendale Unified officials said they expected regular bus service to resume by Monday.

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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