Bus drivers go on strike to protest low pay in rural Mississippi school district
Published 6:10 am Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Bus drivers in the Jefferson Davis County went on strike Friday morning after the school board approved paying $25 an hour to emergency drivers as an incentive to help with driver shortage. The item was approved 4-1 at a recent board meeting. “I have zero problem with having anyone that is willing to drive our busses,” said District 2 School Board Member Bobby Wilson. “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.”
According to Superintendent Ike Haynes, the district is facing a severe labor shortage and his solution was to reach out to former bus drivers, coaches, teachers, etc. to help fill in the gaps. “There are several former drivers in the district that have CDLs,” said Superintendent Haynes. “The $25 an hour is simply an enticement in our time of need.”
“I stand with our bus drivers, I vote no,” said Wilson.
The following morning the bus drivers went on strike. A special board meeting was called that evening to rectify the situation.
“It doesn’t matter what job they hold, every employee, their job and what they do goes to the greater good and we are blessed across the board,” said Haynes. After a one-hour strike, Haynes met with the bus drivers at the bus shop over their pay concerns. “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 said.
Haynes recommended to the board to increase current bus drivers’ pay to $20 an hour.
According to Haynes the strike was not necessary and didn’t cause any major issues. “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.”
“Do know that we care about every employee in this district,” said School Board President Shonda Ard Burre. “We are going to work hard to ensure that every employee in the power of our budget will be able to get what they so deserve. We are going to try hard.”
The $20 an hour pay raise for bus drivers passed unanimously.