Iowa City School Bus Drivers Union Calls for Risk Premium

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A union representing bus drivers in the Iowa City Community School District is asking for a 25% risk premium since last year and this year, due to the dangerous conditions they have worked in.

Jerod ringwald

Members of the Iowa City Community School District Board listen to members of the crowd during a meeting of the Iowa City Community School District in Iowa City on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.


Members of Teamsters 238, a union representing bus drivers in the Iowa City Community School District, are asking for a 25% pay rise as a risk bonus – extra income given for working in unsafe conditions.

Five Teamsters members demanded the salary at the ICCSD school board meeting on Tuesday night. Iowa City school bus driver Theresa Seeberger told the board of directors that bus drivers, like healthcare workers, are a critical workforce that should be given a portion of federal money paid to the school district to provide a risk premium for essential workers.

“People don’t know us or think of us, but we do the essential job of transporting all of these kids to school, so that’s an essential service,” Seeberger said. “As part of our job, we have to be on a very small bus, sometimes with 50 students, and there is literally no way to escape the germs that may be walking around.”

There is currently a shortage of bus drivers, Seeberger said, which has resulted in drivers working late at night on the move. The shortage has forced some office staff to drive buses as well, which speakers say deserve a risk premium as well as they don’t have their own union.

The job is also a fractional shift, which means drivers have to drive to work twice a day, preventing them from working other work, Seeberger said.

“Plus, we’re just not getting paid as well as truck drivers, et cetera,” Seeberger said. “But we don’t transport furniture, clothes or toilet paper, we transport children. And all the kids running around – it’s stressful trying to make sure I’m safe.

Audrey Alt, an Iowa City bus supervisor, said she had to work closely with children on the bus, also in dangerous conditions.

“I’m not sitting in that seat – I walk up and down the aisles, I wipe my nose – the same thing your parents or teachers do,” Alt said. “But we are their first district person they see every day and the last district person they see every night.”

A big reason drivers ask for a risk premium is because they don’t get paid vacation, sick leave, or full health care, Alt said.

“I don’t know how many of you have been to schools lately, but as many problems as you have getting children to wear masks, try to be on a bus,” she said. . “It’s really impossible, because they think they’re done with school, so they want to take it off.”

Drivers have been asking for a risk premium since last year and this year, she said.

Iowa City school bus driver Dan Ramsey also told the council that bus drivers are essential workers because in districts across the country that do not have enough drivers, children are arriving at school. school two to three hours late and come home at 7 or 8 p.m.

Drivers have to drive a group of children home, come back to school to pick up another, and then bring them home, he said. Iowa City and Cedar Rapids even had to cancel a few trips for lack of drivers.

Ramsey said the district was unsure whether or not to enact mask warrants on buses.

“Even though there was a federal mandate on masks on buses, we as bus drivers were ordered not to enforce them,” he said.

Bus driver Rob Alt said that while being a bus driver is a part-time job, it’s a full-time commitment.

“We come to you and ask for a risk premium to honor our commitment to the youth of this state,” he said. “And that’s something we’re proud of. But there are other professions that are paid for the pandemic, and I think we deserve this consideration as well. “

Teamsters 238 senior officer Justin Case has said the shortage of school bus drivers is a pandemic in and of itself. He said the fact that bus drivers work with children, who are largely unvaccinated and may not follow masking instructions, puts them at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“No one can argue that school bus drivers are not essential, and yet, due to the part-time nature and shifting workstation, there are few benefits and few incentives to be retained. our professional drivers who transport our children alone. risk, ”Case said.


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