HUDSON—The school district’s bus drivers will get a bump in pay under a contract extension with Petermann Transportation, passed by the Board of Education Feb. 26.
The board unanimously approved extending its contract with Petermann, a Cincinnati-based busing company, through June 30, 2021. The contract was not due to expire until June 30, 2019.
The new contract includes a 2.5 percent mid-year rate increase, and then 2.5 percent for each year for the remaining years, said interim Business Manager Steve Marlow. The starting pay of a Hudson bus driver is $13.55 per hour with annual increases, guaranteed four-hour minimums, and 12 to 15 paid time-off days which can be used for a snow day or sick days.
"Petermann has had the pleasure of serving Hudson City Schools for nearly eight years, and we look forward to continuing our partnership in the years to come," said Kate Walden, Petermann spokesperson.
Superintendent Phillip Herman said the contract changes are a good step in hiring and retaining drivers.
"The service from Petermann and from our drivers is very good," Herman said. "Our students are in good hands when they are with our drivers."
School board member Alisa Wright said the contract should help "get those wages up to a market rate."
"Petermann under the current contract has provided excellent bus maintenance, safety, service and responsiveness," Wright said. However, she added that the lower wages the Hudson district had offered was causing the Hudson City Schools to "lose valued drivers."
Bus driver Mark Stanish said he appreciates the board’s approval of the new contract.
"I’ll tell you what other bus companies compare us to," Stanish said. "They compare us to the NFL. We’re compared to the Browns, the worst in the league. We are the laughing stock of the bus drivers. No one wants to come here. They leave to go out to make more money."
Stanish said it can be a challenge to hire in and retain new drivers.
"We appreciate the raise," he said. "We got a good crew there, and we take care of our kids."
Hudson has used Petermann Transportation since 2010. The company provides drivers, maintenance and roughly half of the buses — about 25 to 30 — in the Hudson City School District’s fleet. The district maintains its own fleet of buses, which includes 28 to 30 vehicles, depending. Petermann provides maintenance for the fleet of buses and employs all the drivers — about 65 — for the district.
In November 2017, drivers raised concerns over safety issues and pay, and some began talks with Teamsters International and Teamsters Local No. 348 about forming a collective bargaining unit. An effort to unionize did not succeed.
However, the bus drivers’ protestations did bring to light compensation issues with drivers and monitors, as there exists a $2 to $3 pay difference between Hudson’s drivers and drivers in other districts.
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