The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

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
Local News
  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren supervisors deny hog confinement permit application KEOSAUQUA — A proposed swine building in Chequest Township didn’t receive a seal of approval from Van Buren County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors voted Monday to recommend to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deny the permit. Supervisor

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Beth Howard bw cover -L -T -M 'Ms. American Pie' tours with her new book ELDON — With many hours and countless miles on her RV "The Beast," Eldon's pie lady, Beth Howard, is celebrating the release of her new book with a tour of southwestern states. Howard's second book, "Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bol

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Attorney withdraws after client disappears OTTUMWA — Authorities are still looking for an Ottumwa man who didn’t show up for court proceedings. When they find him, he’ll need a new attorney. Jacob Nordyke faces charges of interference with official acts and possession of drug paraphernalia. H

    April 16, 2014

  • Waste Management wants to stay in Keosauqua KEOSAUQUA — Waste Management told the city of Keosauqua that it was not interested in ending the contract it has for solid waste and recycling services it provides to the city. A representative told the city mayor that it intends to fulfill the contr

    April 16, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition