UPDATE: Boston school bus drivers reported to work Thursday, easing concerns prompted by a one-day strike Tuesday. School officials remain cautiously optimistic, but said parents should continue monitoring the day-to-day bus operations at BostonPublicSchools.org.
Although the majority of Boston school bus drivers were back to work picking up and dropping off students Wednesday, school and city officials said they were not yet confident that families can fully depend on the bus system.
Boston school bus drivers who belong to the United Steelworkers of America Local 8751 staged an unannounced and unsanctioned work stoppage Tuesday in protest of what they considered to be unreasonable changes in their operation. The wildcat strike left 33,000 students and their families scrambling to find last-minute transportation.
Speaking outside his office at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Thomas Menino said that he expected the uncertainty to continue, as some defiant drivers were still adamantly upholding the strike.
"A few wildcat members of this union tried to block drivers coming into the bus yard in Readville (Wednesday morning) and were threatening their co-workers. This is not right," Menino said. "I will not accept people being bullied into not working and losing a day’s pay, by a few individuals who want to cause a disruption, create fear and hold power over others in the union.”
Union representatives on Wednesday met with officials from Veolia Transportation, which took over the system’s bus contract in July, and according to John Dunlap, the city's chief of labor relations, presented a list of demands which were being reviewed.
Addressing the question of discipline, Dunlap said that matter is between Veolia and the union, and that he did not believe any criminal charges were on the table.
School officials said Wednesday night that there was uncertainty with day-to-day bus service, so families should continue to have backup plans in place.
Students will be excused Thursday for "transportation-related" absences and tardies, and all schools will open one hour earlier to accommodate parents.
Officials said 91 percent of students who took the bus Wednesday were on time.
Updates on school bus service will be available on the Boston Public School District's website.