Roanoke City school bus provider responds to bus drivers' complaints

Amalgamated Transit Union offers support and services to drivers

ROANOKE, Va.- – After several reported issues with a local school bus service,  a transit union wants to step in to help. But Durham School Services in Roanoke said the rumors are getting out of hand.

Cliff Headrick with Amalgamated Transit Union is the executive board member for Virginia. He says he wants all drivers to be treated fairly. 

The group spent Tuesday morning in the rain offering their help. 

"Our goal is to help them organize to get a union in here to protect them," Headrick said.

Some of the drivers were curious about how the process works. The union says they heard multiple complaints from Roanoke City School bus drivers. 

"Safety concerns, drivers' pay, pay cuts," Headrick said. 

One driver had the courage to speak up and says the problem isn't that bad, at least for him.  

"I had issues in the beginning. When I adjusted to it, it's working fine,"

He said the problem is the company is short drivers and he stands behind his employer. 

"I mean, I don't see anything wrong. People here are getting trained and it's going to take time," 

Durham School Services explained to 10 News the errors and delays with employees' paychecks. 

"Friday of last week, found out we missed some people. And we got special checks overnighted for them on Monday. And anybody that was hurting and needed some cash, I basically handed out cash for them to get through the weekend for food or gas," said David Braybender, Regional manager, Durham. 

David Braybender said rumors overshadow the recent improvement for employees.

"We increased their wages by a dollar an hour. We also gave them three paid holidays they never had in the past. They are receiving a $500 sign-on bonus. They went from getting paid from every two weeks to weekly," Braybender said. 

The Roanoke City School System acknowledges some ongoing transportation issues, but say they are in a better position now than they were last week.

"Getting our high school students on time and getting our students that drive across town home a little quicker," said Dan Lyons, deputy superintendent. 

RCPS is sticking with its decision of using Durham as their school bus provider.

"Absolutely, it's a fine company. There are things both of us could have done better on the first day," said Lyons. 

The union hopes to organize a meeting with drivers next week. 

A representative from Durham contacted us this afternoon with a statement: 

Any of our employees are free to be part of union representation.  
We have a good working relationship with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and would welcome the possibility of working with them here in Roanoke.


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