Update on Durham-Tea​mster Transporta​tion Negotiatio​ns

Parents of Rhinebeck Central School District Students,

This will serve to keep you apprised and updated about the ongoing contract negotiations between A&E/ Durham School Services, the company with whom our school district has contracted to provide transportation services to our students for the past several years, and Teamsters Local 445, which represents A&E/Durham’s bus drivers and bus monitors.

In the interest of providing factual information about this matter, it should be noted that the bus drivers and bus monitors are employees of A&E/Durham School Services.  They are not employees of the Rhinebeck Central School District.  The school district is not, and cannot be, involved in these private sector contract negotiations between A&E/Durham and the Teamsters.

Contract negotiations began earlier in the year, and both sides have been bargaining in good faith with the hopes of securing an agreement for all parties involved.  A&E/Durham and the Teamsters met most recently on November 19th and 20th.  Even though an agreement was not reached at the conclusion of the negotiation session, both parties agreed to continue discussions and negotiations in the hopes of securing a new contract.  However, although the parties have exchanged proposals since then, no new negotiations dates have been set or agreed to by the parties.

Earlier this Fall, the Teamsters’ chief negotiator had called a meeting of Durham employee’s on Friday, November 9th to take a strike vote, asking the A&E/Durham employees whether or not they want to authorize a strike against A&E/Durham at some point in the future.  The employees themselves must authorize in advance any job action that they decide to take.  Any strike or other job action on the part of A&E/Durham’s drivers has the potential to disrupt the normal schedules and instructional program for the Rhinebeck Central School District’s students and their parents. 

The school district has been notified that those A&E/Durham employees who attended the meeting authorized their union leadership to call a strike at some future date, as yet to be determined. It is also the District’s understanding that proposals continue to be exchanged between the parties in the hope that a settlement will be reached in a timely manner that does not negatively impact the education of Rhinebeck’s students who Durham drivers transport to and from school on a daily basis.  

In more recent news, several members of the Teamsters organization and a number of Durham employees attended the December 11, 2012 Board of Education meeting and used the Public Comment portion of the meeting to make statements of their thoughts and allegations about Durham School Services, the safety of their operation, their working conditions and their pay rates.  Board members listened with interest and attention, and Board President Deirdre Burns thanked the Durham drivers for taking the time to express their thoughts at the Board meeting and for the work they do on behalf of Rhinebeck’s students.  Ms. Burns also expressed the Board’s interest in the Teamsters and Durham being able to reach a mutually agreeable settlement through the collective bargaining process currently under way.

Most recently, negotiations sessions between Durham School Services and the Teamsters have been scheduled for January 8 and 9, 2013.  The District is hopeful that both parties will continue to work toward and reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

Until such an agreement is reached, the school district’s goal is to make its best effort to maintain the integrity of the daily school schedule, the District’s excellent instructional program, and its outstanding support services on behalf of Rhinebeck’s students.  A&E/Durham has informed the District that they are developing contingency plans in the event of a strike or other job action in response to the Teamsters’ recent strike vote.  In the interest of Rhinebeck’s children and their education, the District urges parents to make contingency plans, including making alternative arrangements to transport their children to and from school, should that become necessary at some point.

In the event of any disruption to the usual transportation arrangements, the District will communicate to parents through the District web site (www.rhinebeckcsd.org), through letters, and through the usual methods of emergency notifications, including SchoolMessenger and local radio stations.  The District continues to remain optimistic that these negotiations will come to a successful conclusion for all parties without further threat of disruption to the school schedule, the District’s instructional program, and District support services.