Palm Beach County (Fla.) School District Vows to Fire Bus Drivers Who Stage Another 'Sick Out'

Marion Herbert's picture
Monday, November 14, 2011

Stage another “sick out” protest, and you will be terminated. That’s the message Palm Beach County (Fla.) School District transportation officials have for bus drivers who are unhappy with both the district and their union.

“We’re not going to tolerate this nonsense,” said Pete DiDonato, transportation general manager. “They’re fixing to get themselves fired.”

On Oct. 24, the district said, 26 drivers did not show up for work. One, Larry Sussman, said most of them were staging a sick out to protest what they call low wages and unfair working conditions.

Last week, Sussman and other drivers said they felt like the district wasn’t taking their concerns seriously because it had not met with them. He hinted at future actions, saying there could be a “yellow flu” coming.

The Service International Employees Union, which represents drivers, said it is not organizing the sick outs. It has urged drivers to go to work and let the union handle their concerns through negotiations, said union spokesman Daniel Rubin. Contract negotiations between the union and the district are slated to get under way today.

Sussman said drivers feel that their union isn’t doing anything for them because they have not received raises for years.

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