Jan 27, 2022
Poorly paid bus drivers in a rural Mississippi school district went on strike last Friday morning and by the end of the day, they had won an hourly pay raise of at least $5, lifting their wages to $20 an hour.
The strike happened after the Jefferson Davis County school board authorized paying $25 per hour to drivers hired on an emergency basis, Magnolia State Live first reported Wednesday.
The emergency pay proposal--meant to incentivize retired teachers, coaches, and bus drivers to help alleviate an ongoing labor shortage--passed 4-1. However, the pay bump didn't apply to existing drivers, some of whom were making as little as $12 an hour--less than half the newly established emergency rate.
"I have zero problem with having anyone that is willing to drive our busses," said Bobby Wilson, the lone District 2 school board member to vote against the measure. "I do have a problem with $25 an hour. I would like to know why we are doubling the salary for certified personnel to drive versus the $12-$15 for our regular drivers."
On Friday morning, the bus drivers went on strike. After one hour, district superintendent Ike Haynes "met with the bus drivers at the bus shop over their pay concerns," according to Magnolia State Live.
During a special board meeting called that evening, Haynes said that "we are here tonight to make sure that our bus drivers in this district, many of which have worked here over 11 years, feel respected and compensated."
Haynes recommended that the board increase current bus drivers' hourly pay rate to $20. The motion passed unanimously.
"According to Haynes the strike was not necessary and didn't cause any major issues," Magnolia State Live reported.
"The parents stepped up and dropped off kids, every driver drove their route, every student that was going to school today went to school and every teacher that had an opportunity to teach, taught," said the superintendent.
Fight for 15, however, argued that the brief work stoppage--and the substantial wage hike that resulted--is further evidence that "strikes work."
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