Anchorage School Board approves ‘long overdue’ contract with bus drivers union

man makes sure engines good
Michael Hertzog, a bus driver in the Anchorage School District, checks his bus to make sure everything is working properly on Aug. 30, 2022. (Mizelle Mayo/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage School Board has approved a three-year contract between the district and Teamsters Local 959, the union that represents some of its bus drivers.

The contract increases hourly pay and contributions to drivers’ health care plans. It also gives drivers more opportunities to pick up extra work and earn overtime pay.

Students in the Anchorage School District have had rotating bus service since the start of the year due to an ongoing driver shortage. The district is currently short 35 drivers and has offered signing bonuses and paid training opportunities in an effort to recruit them.

Union spokesperson Derek Musto told the board Tuesday that drivers play an important role in the district.

“These professionals are the first and last non-household adults that our children see each day, and they play a vital role in security for our school district and our community,” Musto said.

He also noted that bus drivers often work unpredictable hours for just nine months of the year.

The district had been paying drivers $7 to $9 less per hour than the city’s bus program and tour companies.

Bargaining for the new contract began in April. School board member Carl Jacobs said the wage increases and other improvements were a long time coming.

“I wanted to, I guess, apologize to the Teamster members that this took this long,” Jacobs said. “I think a contract that had appropriate terms given the level of service and sacrifice by these public service members is long overdue.”

The contract is in effect through June 2025.

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