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Meriden school bus driver strike continues Tuesday as Coventry drivers join picket line

School bus drivers with M&J in Coventry and NBT in Meriden will be on strike on Tuesday, leaving students to find their own rides. They are demanding fair wages.

MERIDEN, Conn. — Two school districts in Connecticut - Meriden and Coventry - will be without bus transportation for students Tuesday as bus drivers step up to the picket line, Teamsters Local 671 confirmed on Labor Day.

School bus drivers employed with M&J and serve Coventry's schools will strike on Tuesday.

"They have zero health care. They have a retirement plan that they really can’t afford so because they’re wages are below standard so we’re trying to get them to the wage that other bus contracts have," said Anthony Lepore, principal officer for Teamsters Local 671.

School officials have already informed parents of extended school hours to accommodate early drop-off and late pick-up in anticipation of the strike.

“Unfortunately, when an issue such as this arises, in the end, the students are the ones who suffer because their schedule/routine is so greatly impacted," Superintendent David Petrone said in a statement to FOX61 on Friday. "In addition, there is an increased burden on our parents who have to find transportation for their children, which in many cases involves adjusting their work schedule or utilizing family members to assist.”

Parents are being asked to drive their children to school. Coventry Police will also be adding extra patrols near schools for those students who can safely walk to school.

"With all these extra parents coming because of the bus driver situation, it’s gonna be different you know. I won’t be able to be in and out within 10 minutes to pick up my kids. And that’s going to be an issue," said Jennifer Mincarelli of Coventry.

Bolton Public Schools and Stafford Public Schools have also informed families of the potential impacts of the strike. Those towns' bus drivers are also employed by M&J and may be joining the strike in solidarity with the Coventry drivers.

Meriden's bus drivers with New Britain Transportation will have their second day of protests on Tuesday. The school district also extended school hours for early drop-off and late pick-up, and officials saw families and neighbors team up to carpool students to school on Friday.

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While Meriden's Mayor Kevin Scarpati said Friday that it was "reassuring to see the entire community come together" to make sure kids made it to the classroom in a safe and efficient manner, "what happened [Friday] should not and can not be the norm."

Drivers in Meriden said they want fair wages. Right now, drivers said they make at least $4 per hour less than competing companies. The group also asks for safer working conditions and the company to provide health insurance, 401k contributions, and paid holidays. 

"While we celebrate all of the progress made in the labor movement it is important to note that the fight for working families is not over," Teamsters Local 671 said in a statement Monday, informing union members of the strikes.

To address a tip FOX61 received, the Teamsters confirmed to Connecticut's News Station that there is "no strike or talk of [a bus driver strike] in Manchester."


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