The Ottumwa Courier

Education

September 16, 2013

Driving a hard bargain

OTTUMWA — The school bus company says they're offering a big pay raise. The drivers are saying their complaint is not about money.

In the Ottumwa school district, bus drivers and buses are supplied by a contractor, Southern Iowa Transit. That company owns the school buses. When their contract runs out, they offer a bid to the district, which the district can accept or decline. In other southeast Iowa districts, the tendency is for the schools to hire their own bus drivers. As support personnel, their benefits packages are based on those of other employees, like teachers or teacher associates.

Ottumwa bus drivers and Southern Iowa Transit appear to be facing challenging negotiations. Now that those drivers have unionized, a union negotiator acts to get the drivers a compensation package they consider acceptable. The drivers say they don't want a "disruption in service" but that there is a possibility that could happen if a contract isn't agreed upon.

Both the company and the union sent the Courier different figures for what surrounding districts pay their drivers. Yet checking public records showed both lists were correct: The company numbers show that when figuring pay hourly, Ottumwa pays toward the top of the list. The union numbers show that when looking at salary annually, Ottumwa pays at the lower end of the list.

Southern Iowa Transit says they have offered a negotiated pay increase of 18 percent.

But that's not the main issue, drivers said. At recent meeting, drivers said when it comes to items like time off, they are way behind. The company does not dispute the union claim that benefits are lower than neighboring districts.

In general, SIT company figures show if a part-time employee isn't working, they aren't getting paid. But drivers at a recent school board meeting said it's a matter of respect. As one example, they said, if a bus driver is going to a funeral for a loved one or taking a couple of days to grieve, shouldn't they be paid? They may be part-time workers, but so are drivers in other, smaller communities.

Text Only
Education
  • IHCC buildings.jpg Grant helps Hills keep students on track

    OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Bulldogs update color photo -L -M High school students lead Bulldog charge

    OTTUMWA — Two Ottumwa High School students gave their very first press conference Wednesday morning to share their progress on decorating Ottumwa with large bulldog statues. Alyssa Cash and Madyson Feather joined Main Street Ottumwa Executive Directo

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Smart snacks color photo -M -L Schools adopt new food regulations

    OTTUMWA — This fall, students across the country will find big changes in the cafeteria, but Ottumwa kids may find they approve of the changes. The new "Smart Snacks in School" standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) went in

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Survey finds math, science grads earn top dollar WASHINGTON (AP) — It seems to matter less whether your alma mater is public or private than what you study — math and science in particular — when it comes to finding a high-paying job after college, according to a report released Tuesday by the Educ

    July 8, 2014

  • Pekin and Tri-County to share superintendent PACKWOOD — Both Pekin and Tri-County Community School Districts have voted to approve Operational Sharing Incentives for superintendent during the 2014-15 school year. During the 2014 legislative session, the Legislature passed and the governor signe

    July 2, 2014

  • Teaching the teachers

    OTTUMWA — The community has formally advised the school district that strong teachers lead to strong students. Now Ottumwa teachers have "coaches" to help them boost educational muscle. Though the idea is now formalized under a Legislative state plan

    May 29, 2014

  • 0525 OTT OHS graduation web-color photo 3 OHS seniors say farewell OTTUMWA - Sunday marked the end of high school for all the graduating seniors from Ottumwa High School. Family and friends of the students packed the Bridge View Center, leaving standing room only for late-comers. You could feel the excitement in the

    May 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • Slideshow: OHS graduation

    May 25, 2014

  • 0524 OTT OCS graduation web-color photo 3 Small ceremony for big achievements OTTUMWA - Saturday was a special day for the four seniors graduating from Ottumwa Christian School. This small graduating class is double the size of last year's class and illustrates the small-group learning style of the school. Family and friends o

    May 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Slideshow: Ottumwa Christian graduation

    May 24, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National