Speak Out: Strike Looms for Unionized, but Privatized School Bus Fleets
With the privatization of three Lowcountry bus fleets, the workforce has since unionized and is now threatening a strike due to stalled negotiations.
Privatizing government services has long been lauded by conservatives, but with privatization of three S.C. school district bus fleets now comes the threat of a union strike — a sticking point for many Republicans that see unions as a relic of the past and unneeded.
While South Carolina is a right-to-work state, there are unions in the public and private sector. However, public-sector unions have little negotiating power as many government bodies will not bargain with them in the state.
South Carolina has three privatized school bus systems under Durham School Services: Beaufort County School District, Charleston County School District and Dorchester County School District Two. Other districts have looked to follow suit and there was proposed legislation to privatize all of the state's fleets. The legislation stalled in committee last year.
Now all three privatized districts have employees represented by Teamsters 509, and all three could enact a strike.
This week, Charleston County laborers authorized a strike as negotiations stalled. Strike-authorization votes for Beaufort County and Dorchester Two will be held at a later date.
Tens of thousands of public school children could be affected by a strike. A school bus driver strike is now gripping New York City. Click here to read more.
The question: Was privatizing the school bus fleets the right answer now they are subject to unionization and striking?