Baker bus drivers plan to go back to work Tuesday after days-long protest
BAKER - Officials with the Baker School Board were quiet Monday, despite a large number of bus drivers skipping out on work last week to protest a pay dispute.
It all started last Thursday, when Baker school bus drivers went to get their paychecks and were told by school system staff that they would see a significant decrease in their pay.
The reason for the cut: an error in the system causing the bus drivers to be overpaid by as much as $9,000 last year.
One bus driver says the pay cut amounts to around $750 per month. Making an already slim wage of $15,000 to $18,000, they are worried sick for their livelihood.
“Well I already can’t pay my bills…. Now I’m going to be making less than what I did to start off with," Keemichael Camino said.
The Baker School System sent out a message to parents Friday, telling them to "expect delays in transportation." Students who were late to school were excused Friday.
Monday, the protest continued, but the school system did not address any concerns of delayed transportation. The bus drivers allege the schools are allowing unqualified employees to drive the buses.
“They do not have a commercial drivers license, passenger, airbrake or school bus endorsement on that bus... and there’s about to be students on that bus," said a driver as one Baker school bus pulled out of the parking lot.
Superintendent Dr. De'Ette Perry met with each bus driver individually to discuss the pay dispute and protest. The drivers were told not to go on camera for interviews Monday.
One source told WBRZ the drivers were told they would receive a raise last school year, so when their paychecks reflected an increase they did not think anything was wrong. Now, they say the superintendent told them a raise was never approved by the school board.
Negotiations between the drivers and superintendent ended with no resolution. They will still have to pay back the thousands of dollars.
“I would hope that they would meet us where we are. Pay us what we’re worth. I was told it wasn’t about what we were worth, but that’s exactly what it’s about," Camino said.
Monday, WBRZ reached out to each Baker school board members and the superintendent, but have not heard back. The bus drivers plan to return to school Tuesday, with the exception of one who was placed on administrative leave.
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