Written By: Maria Emmons

6:50 am, the bus is coming in 5 minutes. The clock is ticking, emotions are high for her. She is ready to take her test in first period. Out the door she goes. Tick Tick Tick….6:55, the bus should be here. “Maybe it is just late”, she thought to herself. She plans on giving it a few minutes. 7:25 the bell rings for 1st at school, she has time. 7:00, 7:05, 7:10… the time keeps ticking, she is going to be late. The bus is not here. It’s not coming. She needs a ride. She scrabbles to call her mom, no answer. Next, her dad, no answer. She is stuck. No way to school. The test is now missed. Howard county bus drivers and making it known what they want and deserve.

“I am really disappointed that our bus hasn’t shown up to school at certain times…” said sophomore, Bella White.  Students are being severely affected by the demand of the Howard County Bus drivers union. Students are unable to get to school because their buses are not showing up. Some bus drivers have decided not to show up because they feel that without the county meeting their demands, they don’t have a reason to come to work. 

In recent years, many bus drivers have become furious and feel that they are entitled to higher pay and additional benefits. They are requesting an additional $5 per hour, a $2000 retention bonus, a $2000 retainer fee for new hires, and health insurance paid for by the county. According to County Executive, Calvin Ball, Howard County is planning on working with the union to address these issues. The county seems to hear the issues however they are not making any efforts to solve them for bus drivers. 

Ms. Wanda, who drives Bus 54 for Atholton, agrees that bus drivers do not receive enough pay nor adequate benefits. She explained that “we just want benefits and more pay.”  Howard County bus drivers do not receive pay for holidays and she feels that in a sense she works harder than teachers.  

Families have also become  frustrated because students are unable to get to and from their schools, due to bus drivers not showing up. Sophomore Bella White, explained how “some people don’t have a ride except for the bus so it makes people’s lives difficult.”  Many students have been left behind on designated “protest” days for bus drivers and cannot get to school unless their guardians are able to  take them. 

The administration at Atholton is trying not to get involved in this issue .They don’t want to take sides with the bus drivers themselves or those who oppose the actions of the unions Atholton Administrator, Mr. Richman, who is in charge of transportation explained that Atholton is not responsible for the choices and actions of the bus drivers, they are “not striking against us.” Theywork for public contractors so they are striking against the contractors and the Howard County transportation office. Although Mr Richman is responsible for the students on the buses but not the buses or the drivers. His priority is to make sure that the buses come and leave the school as well as  keeping in constant communication with the HoCo transportation office. Mr. Richman explained how he provided a space where bus driver union members could meet and converse within Atholton High School but he is still, “not involved”

In the past, bus drivers have felt that they don’t get what they deserve for what they do, resulting in the formation of the Howard Country bus drivers union for an opportunity to make change. However, according to Mrs. Wanda, the bus drivers union is currently dismantled, due to not enough support from the community, but they are “hoping to get it [the movement] started up again soon.”

So the question remains, are bus drivers going to receive what they feel they deserve?

Posted by memmon1170

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