Education

More News | |

School bus drivers protest for better pay, treatment

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 9:50 PM
Last updated 10:02 PM
  • Follow Education

Caroneta Williams said she drives the world’s most precious cargo to and from school every day but gets paid less than if she transported trash to the landfill.

Because of that, she said it’s time for change.

“I love my job, I love my kids,” she said. “The kids are why I come to work ... but I don’t need to be working in these conditions. You go to work and you do your best and you get treated so bad.”

About a dozen Richmond County school bus drivers protested outside the board of education Tuesday evening to bring attention to what they call unfair wages and mistreatment.

Drivers said their pay was deducted by $1 an hour seven years ago as a cost saving measure and was never reinstated. They are also protesting the transportation department’s method of calculating base pay, which can cause a driver’s income to fluctuate year to year.

Base pay is calculated by multiplying a drivers’ daily hours by their hourly rate and 176 working days and dividing that by 12 months. Even if they work 10 months a year, they are still paid once a month for 12 months to account for insurance purposes, according to transportation director Jimmie Wiley.

Daily hours are predetermined through GPS tracking on every bus that measures how long it should take to complete a route. Because drivers still clock in and out every day, their paychecks are adjusted if they work more or less hours on a given day.

But the drivers said the base pay formula lowers their paychecks during the holidays and summer breaks when they aren’t driving but are receiving a paycheck calculated by what they say are unfair base hours.

“When it gets to a point where you can’t pay your bills, things have to change,” said local Transportation Workers Union President Sallie Thomas. “We want them to treat their people right.”

Wiley said he stands by the base pay method, and is confused by the drivers’ protest since the process has been in place for years. He said it was able to be calculated more accurately the past three years with the GPS tracking on the buses, which allows the department to see if buses are stalling or killing time on the clock after children are dropped off at school.

“Technology is causing us to be more efficient,” Wiley said. “It’s helping everybody be more honest. In essence you can’t pay for them for something they’re not doing.”

He said with the hand scanners used by drivers to clock in and out, they are still paid if they are given extra duties or if their routes are delayed because of traffic or otherwise.

But driver Greg Johnson said it’s also about more than just money. He said drivers feel disrespected and unappreciated, which is why the department has a consistent shortage of drivers and high turnover.

“People always say put the children first,” he said. “We do that. We’re the baby-sitters, we’re the moms, we’re the dads. So I want to see things get better for us. I want to see a brand new change. We have lost some damn good drivers because of this.”

Thomas said the local union, which represents about a quarter of the department’s drivers, is working to determine the next steps to provoke change. She said a strike is unlikely because drivers would not be protected from termination under Georgia’s union laws.

However she said the local union’s attorney is pursuing legal action to demand fair work conditions and pay for its drivers. Williams said it is the only option because local officials have not stepped up.

“I can’t even afford to put tires on my car,” Williams said. “You think the board members care? They don’t.”

Comments (32) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
bubbasauce
20689
Points
bubbasauce 10/15/13 - 11:09 pm
11
0
Here's the kicker. You can

Here's the kicker. You can bet your sweet_______ upper management are not suffering by taking pay cuts. Good luck on getting back any money. They always start chopping at the bottom.

scoobynews
3854
Points
scoobynews 10/16/13 - 05:13 am
8
5
It is not a full time job so

It is not a full time job so what do they expect?? This is not a job you go into thinking your going to make money. The job hours are stated up front if you can't handle the pay don't take the job.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 10/16/13 - 05:15 am
7
1
Why isn't this happening in

Why isn't this happening in Columbia County as well?

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 10/16/13 - 05:16 am
8
8
“When it gets to a point

“When it gets to a point where you can’t pay your bills, things have to change,”

Yes, things do need to change. Like YOU getting another job or finding ways to cut YOUR bills!! I would be willing to bet you have quite a few bills that are WANTS, rather than needs; everyone does.

Bodhisattva
6207
Points
Bodhisattva 10/16/13 - 06:36 am
10
4
It's not a full time job? You

It's not a full time job? You have your day 5:30am-8:30am then again at roughly 2:00pm-5:00pm. It does hinder getting other employment, if you enjoy luxuries of life like sleeping.

justthefacts
21833
Points
justthefacts 10/16/13 - 07:15 am
7
5
Free Country

If your job isn't cutting it, find another one that does. If the county can't fill the positions due to poor pay and treatment, they will have to change things. Simple supply and demand.

Little Lamb
46021
Points
Little Lamb 10/16/13 - 07:45 am
5
4
Ridiculous Whine

The drivers say:

They are also protesting the transportation department’s method of calculating base pay, which can cause a driver’s income to fluctuate year to year.

Try working in commission-based sales. That’ll cause your income to fluctuate. Try working as a tree surgeon. That’ll cause your income to fluctuate.

Everyone cannot be a teacher, with a secure, predictable income and a great retirement package. The overwhelming majority of workers have a fluctuating income.

nocnoc
42557
Points
nocnoc 10/16/13 - 08:13 am
3
4
Critical Information Missing

What do they get paid per hours NOW?

Question: Has their wages increased at all in 7 years, and they want the $1.00 back also?

Admittedly, this is no job for the weak of heart.
40 or 50 screaming brats, each trying to showoff more than the other.

Making sure you remember the correct 40 or so stops.

Staying on schedule to keep the kids from standing the rain, cold or
along dangerous roadways a second longer that needed.To irate and sometimes crazy parents that try to assault the driver and more.

Putting up with fights,

all this plus avoiding every idiot driver about to run-over a kid leaving the
bus, because their cell is important than driving.

Yes they have a challenging job with lots of responsibilities.

But, given the RCBOE management style, I expect to see a
Job Posting advertising 10 Bus Driver positions next year.

However, there is another option:
* Pay them strictly by the hour, using a GPS tracker system, based on honest route run times.

* Quit paying them during Summer vacations and break periods.
and drop their health Insurance during those non-working period of employment.

* Don't pay or cover time sitting at McDonald's before, between and after routes.

The old saying:
Careful what you wish for should be given some thought.

Because given the high unemployment of Slum Augusta (believe it or not) there is always someone for a JOB.

itsanotherday1
43131
Points
itsanotherday1 10/16/13 - 08:14 am
4
5
Wonder how long they've used

Wonder how long they've used GPS tracking? The advent of that may be the beginning of the discontent. Very telling about the past behavior if true. No more loafing on the clock to get time in.

Little Lamb
46021
Points
Little Lamb 10/16/13 - 08:17 am
3
4
Clarity

I think IAD has cut through the smoke and exposed the root of the discontent.

That's kind of a mixed metaphor, isn't it? Maybe Riverman can come up with a better metaphor.

Bulldog
1324
Points
Bulldog 10/16/13 - 08:33 am
5
7
If you want better pay...

Might I suggest that you prepare yourself by training for the job you want. It appears that you failed to do that earlier in life, otherwise you wouldn't be whining about your current position. It's all on you. If this is just too unfair for you, I suggest that you apply elsewhere and see how you do. You apparently have no insight into the concept of personal responsibility, but you had better learn or you will continue to go through life as a loser and a drag on society.

jimmymac
39731
Points
jimmymac 10/16/13 - 08:34 am
0
0
PAY
Unpublished

It's simple. Don't like the pay look for another job that pays better. Oh, please stop using it's for the kids. That act is getting pretty tired. It's for you plain and simple.

seenitB4
87180
Points
seenitB4 10/16/13 - 09:05 am
12
2
OMG what meanie posts today!

They really do have a tough job...the only way yall would understand that is to drive a bus for a week...I can promise you after that you would say GIVE THEM A DANG RAISE!

The money is WASTED downtown on studies--consultants & some want to crunch on these drivers...unbelievable....go join up with the numb butts in downtown..

I wish the drivers would apply for cross country driving & leave this stinking mess for them to figure out...just damn.:(:(

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7808
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 10/16/13 - 09:22 am
4
9
5-8:30 am 2-5:00pm

Hmm Those hours allow a lot of time for study and courses at Aug. Tech for a better job. Hmm, isn't the bus shop located right next door to Aug. Tech? Amazing, what you can come up with when you use your head for something other than a hat rack!!!

Echoes86
911
Points
Echoes86 10/16/13 - 09:27 am
15
2
Leeches?

I have a problem with the poster (thauch12) that called bus drivers "leeches." How judgmental are you? They're working and are tax payers, so explain to me how that makes someone a leech? Who cares if they are protesting for higher wages? As one poster mentioned, it's not going to be that easy for bus drivers to get a 2nd job considering the times the buses run. Maybe they have kids they have to get home to and take care of? As for "preparing for the job you want," who are you to say this ISN'T what they wanted (besides the pay)? There are people who are made to be CEOs, there are people made to work at McDonald's, there are people who are made to drive buses. Not everyone has to go out and get a skill set or degree you deem suitable enough to be a "real job" or career. I get kind of tired of people thinking that everyone should have a college degree to be considered a successful person and not a "leech."

seenitB4
87180
Points
seenitB4 10/16/13 - 09:33 am
11
2
me too

I have a problem with that post too.

I have a problem with the poster (thauch12) that called bus drivers "leeches." How judgmental are you?

Some drivers have children to keep after hours...so easy to throw stones & it makes me sick to read that they are called names.

bright idea
814
Points
bright idea 10/16/13 - 09:51 am
6
0
Not a job I would want

I would not want this job and I am sure they deserve a raise, HOWEVER, it is a part time job in a BOE with a tight budget and bloated management. The shortage of drivers is also due to the CDL requirements. The CDL should not be like getting a junior college degree just to drive a bus. I drove a bus for years before CDL and it just wasn't worth the trouble.

nocnoc
42557
Points
nocnoc 10/16/13 - 10:55 am
1
3
Deleted and reposted below

 To correct a few issues.

seenitB4
87180
Points
seenitB4 10/16/13 - 10:31 am
2
2
Mr Thackeray

I believe you have the BEST post on here...thanks

Little Lamb
46021
Points
Little Lamb 10/16/13 - 10:32 am
2
1
Day Care

Running a large private daycare business that provides transportation would be similar.

nocnoc
42557
Points
nocnoc 10/16/13 - 11:02 am
3
7
Please excuse my shoter version of my report for clarity.

I noticed a issue that was not correctly addressed
wanted it to be fair all around.

After checking the RCBOE web site and finally locating the Bus Driver wages 9.44 to $12.## p/hr.

After noticing they work about 1080 p/yr

After noticing they have 1000 hours left to work in the year.

After noticing they are better paid that Wal-Mart Staff.

After noticing there is a demand for airport Shuttle Driver at the same of better pay scale locally.

After noticing a few other things I have come to the determination,

they need to decide if they want the job?

Aroundtown
50
Points
Aroundtown 10/16/13 - 11:00 am
10
2
Thaugh12 has clearly shown

Thaugh12 has clearly shown his/her ignorance and downright spite, in calling ANY hard-working person a "Leech". They also must not be a parent...because my "precious Cargo" are cherished and I entrust that a worthy individual would be driving them daily.

Now, to the point.
I know a few bus drivers (Aiken County though, no union) and they work from 5:30-8:30 THEN they go inside and continue to work as para-professional (Aides) all day, THEN go back and drive from 3:00-5:30. They can't pay the bills if they didn't.
These aren't idiotic, unintelligent people!!
They actually enjoy their jobs...when the students aren't having meltdowns, fights or breaking rules. They remember kids that they drove from Elementary, when they see them in High school. They are staples of the school community and it wouldn't run without them.
BUT, there's more.
They get double-routed when someone is out, take regular drug tests, get NO respect from narcissistic people who think they're so much better (like a few of the spiteful commenters on this thread)...I say, if you have a job; Do it well. If they are doing it well, compensate them. The city took AWAY a $1...give it back.
The drivers that I know (I'm a teacher), aren't even allowed to go into the break room that is provided for them, because their supervisor "just decided it was going to be all hers" (between drives), they are told to sit in their cars and wait if they don't want to drive home for an hour. Ridiculous.
They have to WASH and SWEEP the buses. They sweep twice a day, clean up vomit occasionally (they don't have a janitor).
Try to drive a vehicle with 60+ kids behind you with all of the other drivers out on the road. I wouldn't do it!!
I applaud them for taking this job on.

I respect all the opinions that people have on this page, but just cutting someone down, calling names and being jerks is simply ignorant. Name-calling is for people who don't have the vocabulary to argue their case.

And to say, "Hey, just get another job!"; duh, SOMEONE will still need to do THIS job. Honestly, come teach high school or drive for a week. Then go back to your ivory tower and be thankful that you aren't one of those "leeches" that take better care of some of these students than their parents do.

thauch12
6610
Points
thauch12 10/16/13 - 11:49 am
2
14
Ignorance.

It's really funny how the ignorant (i.e. those that do not understand the facts) are quick to get "offended." Leeches have been used in medicine for hundreds of years in the process of blood-letting. My use of the word compared these creatures extraordinary ability to suck copious amounts of blood with these bus drivers' desire to suck up more tax-payer money from an already bloated school system budget for their unskilled labor.

While it may not be the most glamorous job in the world, driving a bus does not require any special training, higher education, or inordinate risk that would justify higher salaries. Every job has its downsides. This one's include dealing with kids and occasionally cleaning up. It may not be pleasant to hear facts, but the unfortunate reality of the situation us that nothing has been presented that would justify higher salaries.

Echoes86
911
Points
Echoes86 10/16/13 - 12:05 pm
11
2
Thauch12

I promise you, the "higher ups" (i.e. school board members and school board employees) are sucking up MUCH more of your tax payer money for far less work at times. Why don't you criticize that? That's like running after a robber who takes 2 pennies from you over a robber that takes 100 dollars from you. It's rude to call them leeches, and you know it.

thauch12
6610
Points
thauch12 10/16/13 - 12:13 pm
2
11
Quite frankly, my comments

Quite frankly, my comments were not rude. Sometimes facts aren't nice. If you don't like them, tough.

Also, if you'll note, I agreed with you that there are plenty of overpaid people in the school system when I described the budget as "bloated." Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with the matter at hand though.

Sweet son
10398
Points
Sweet son 10/16/13 - 12:28 pm
4
2
Great banter and a little arguing! I think this is good.

myfather and Seenit both had good comments. He said if you can't pay your bills then modify your outgo! Cable, cellphone and eating are just a few that come to mind as ways to lighten the load. There are others.

Seenit said there are some 'meanie' comments today and I guess she is right. Sometimes we get a little overzealous when we have strong feelings about a thread and I guess it shows in our comments.

I just appreciate the fact that we live in a place where we still, for awhile, agree to disagree! :)

seenitB4
87180
Points
seenitB4 10/16/13 - 01:51 pm
5
2
Some post on here

Some of the drivers post on here at times...I'm surprised that they haven't commented....maybe they are hurt & sad with the comments....what is so strange to me is the children we produce are our most important gifts in life...why some would disparage someone who cares for them is beyond me...we really do need to consider how important their jobs are..many are held by females & maybe that is why "some" feel free to rant on them...

Aroundtown
50
Points
Aroundtown 10/16/13 - 02:46 pm
7
1
Thauch12: Definition of "leech", huh?

I would argue that anyone who would "compare" ...(not call people they've never met names...like in the original comment..such as, "I would compare them to leeches"...but no, it said "These leeches...".) would be...
let's see, I'd "COMPARE" them to a:
Narcissist:
1. Excessive love or admiration of oneself. See Synonyms at conceit.
2. A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.
3. A profound inability to accept criticism of one's self or actions.
can't forget:
ARROGANCE:
Arrogance is the byproduct of unhealthy levels of pride and ego.
Warning signs of arrogance include:
1. The tendency to waste people's time by pontificating
2. Looking for criteria other than business performance as a measuring device with peers (such as tenure, academic pedigree and prestige of career titles)
3. Habitually putting people down in order to artificially prop oneself up
4. Blatant disregard for the feelings of others, showing lack of maturity and emotional intelligence
5. Foul language, short sightedness and lack of tact

Lack of tact. Sounds about right. And ignorance...Please.
You have NO IDEA what employees of the school system have to do on a daily basis (unless you are one)...
so kindly, and with tact; I say to you, , because you seem to have decided what should be done in this situation, regardless of your lack of actual experience in the field:
"Wise men argue causes; fools decide them."
~Anacharsis

dwb619
93564
Points
dwb619 10/16/13 - 02:54 pm
6
1
Around town

That about covers it!

lddist
101
Points
lddist 10/16/13 - 04:01 pm
2
3
“People always say put the

“People always say put the children first,” he said. “We do that. We’re the baby-sitters, we’re the moms, we’re the dads.
Moms and dads....please. You may be nice people but you drive kids to and from school. In most families I know, there's a bit more to parenting than that.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs