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Posted on Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.

Lincoln Schools transportation employees to take 7% pay cuts, other concessions

By Tom Perkins

Lincoln school district transportation employees made significant concessions to keep the transportation department in the district instead of outsourcing it as part of a countywide busing plan, officials said.

Lincoln administrators explored joining the Washtenaw Intermediate School District's countywide busing system, but gave the transportation union an option - match the savings the countywide busing plan could provide.

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The Lincoln school district is keeping its own transportation department.

School board President Kim Samuelson said the employees came back with a comparable bid and “some pretty huge concessions.” The school board recently approved a new three-year contract with the transportation union.

Among the concessions are a 7-percent pay cut across the board for the roughly 50 employees. Employees will also see reduced sick days, reduced vacation days and make greater contributions to their health care.

Samuelson said the district will now become the transportation department's health insurance policy holder, allowing it to save even more money by shopping for competitive rates.

But bus drivers will begin using WISD-recommended routes that eliminate “deadhead miles,” which are miles driven when students aren’t on the bus. The district expects an estimated savings of approximately $200,000 with the new routes. The transportation department will also consolidate fuel and parts purchases with the WISD, and mechanics will no longer receive a tool allowance.

Although no total on savings was immediately available, the district expects to have a better idea once it figures in health care savings, Samuelson said. She added it's not the first time the transportation department has agreed to concessions and commended the workers for putting their community and the kids first.

She said their willingness to bargain prompted the district and board to seriously consider any proposal brought to the table.

“Our transportation department has supported us, and they are willing to work with us … and we think that’s a benefit to the district to the community,” she said. “I think its fair to say we never expected the level of concessions that we got from them. What they’re willing to do is put the best interest of the district first.”

Samuelson said 90 percent of the district’s students take the bus. Samuelson said officials are pleased they were able to keep their employees in the Lincoln community.

“I don’t think we looked at it as a better solution, we looked at it as being the right solution for us,” Samuelson said.

Out of the 10 traditional school districts initially interested in the WISD’s plan, only three - Ypsilanti, Willow Run and Ann Arbor - opted to take part.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Sat, Aug 7, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

Yes, I do remember when Reagan busted the PATCO union. Any comparison of our situation here and/to that fateful one in 1981, is a far stretch. His decision to bust the union cost the government and the airlines billions of dollars and took a year to get traffic flow back to normal levels. They were fired for striking. They wanted a 32 hour workweek, retirement at 20 years of service and better computer equipment (theirs was obsolete; they were the only air traffic controllers in the world forced to work more than standard hours a week). The AAPS has busted a union Local, but the Teamsters still exists. PATCO is history. How much will taxpayers pay for the mistake of consolidation 2, 3, 4 and 5 years down the road? How much could have been saved by negotiating with bus drivers over how the department is run, partnering with us to find real wasteful spending and eliminating it, instead of just gouging wages for the sake of an entry in the balance sheet ("we saved $2 million")? How much could be gained by progressively taxing the rich? Taxpayers haven't deprioritized education. They haven't "decided" as a group to defund education. Take a poll and I bet my job (!) you'll find out that most people support increased funding for schools.


Sat, Aug 7, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

I was not in charge of negotiations. We had a chief negotiator with a far more moderate stance than I. There was no bluff to call, stunhsif. We, the members as a whole, rejected a demand to take a disproportionate cut in wages and benefits after the Administration proved unwilling to even discuss ideas for ways to reduce costs cooperatively (like reviewing overhead). They just put an arbitrary number on a reduction to the department budget ($2 million, was it?) and told us how they'd like us to finance that. Members rejected the kind of arrogant disrespect this represented, as well as the demand to take poverty level wages without a fight. I, and others are willing to cooperate as partners. We were not treated as partners, however.


Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 10:12 p.m.

@gdwtch, So you guys called ( you elected CHAI to be your Teamster leader)their bluff and you got smoked. Next time don't put someone with a hair trigger in charge of you negotiating. I do not feel your pain but I feel bad for your personal situation which did not have to come about. That is the game you play when you are in a union and not in control of your own personal destiny. Good Day No Luck Necessary


Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

Chai, Hope you accept responsibility for your part in this as you made an enemy of local #214 officials as well as AAPS administration. Your unwillingness to work through this tough time for the good of ALL of our members at AAPS transportation cost everyone any credibility of ever coming to an agreement that may have been less painful. If we had submitted a proposal that came from the employees instead of the one that mimicked the one that WISD put forth, perhaps we may have been taken a little more seriously. So now we have too little, too late, and you still don't seem to understand how much you have hurt everyone.


Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

Chai, and if a bullfrog had wings, its butt would not bounce on the ground when he hopped. Your insistence that the solution is more money from taxpayers is why the WISD was created in the first place. If teamsters refuse to accept that their lot in life is changing, then they won't even be part of the equation. If you make white collar teachers and elected management the enemy, then you will be treated like an enemy. If you become a partner with the other two entities, all three of you can find ways to do more with less. If results are realized, then the taxpayers will be more likely to think about sending some more of their money your way. Tell me, do you remember what happened to the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981?


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:25 p.m.

AAPS hasn't eliminated it's overhead. It still has transportation costs. AAPS will maintain routing and dispatch operations, a garage, and some kind of administrator to coordinate with the WISD. When the AAPS Board consolidated, they looked for concessions from workers as an alternative. Their administrators' last offer to us in negotiations was a 10% wage cut, which we rejected. The WISD was offering to cut our wages by an average of 13%. Our union, the same Teamsters union that represents drivers and monitors in Lincoln (Local 214) DID submit a competitive bid to the AAPS accepting the WISD's wage scale (a 13% cut). This offer came directly from official leaders, not members (but was an official and legal offer, per union by-laws). AAPS administrators rejected it and recommended the BOE consolidate. Workers did not feel, in general, that offering less than 10% would be useful or acceptable to the AAPS, since that was their last offer. But, in general, workers weren't willing to sacrifice such a disproportionately large wage cut, compared to other district employees. That's why we rejected the 10% to begin with. Workers rights and high or "living" wages must be balanced with the needs of students and the goals of education. But altruism has to have limits. NO one would do service work for free, nor should anyone be expected to. The sappy praise for Lincoln workers who have "taken one for the team" makes me sick. It's not in the best interests of any school district to roll over and accept the de-prioritization of education evidenced in the ever-decreasing amount of funding; to cut wages and benefits for committed workers; to lower the standards of living for working class and poor people all over the county. It's in the best interests of schools to fight for massive increases in funding to public (not charter) schools; money for students and for the workers who instruct them, and support that instruction. Tell Ford, GM, Chrysler, Chase, and Bank of America, to "take one for the team," not the workers who create the wealth that corporate elites enjoy.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 1:27 p.m.

Why, exactly, are we playing zero-sum games pitting teachers against bus drivers with the kids losing out, again? You know, if we all tried to work as a team, blue collar drivers, white collar teachers, and elected management all pulling together for the kids... Maybe we'd get somewhere.

Fat Bill

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

Actually, the local school district becomes the insurance carrier, giving them the freedom to shop around instead of the very expensive MESSA plan that many school employees are covered under. In this instance, the local district retains oversight of the drivers who are in student contact positions, rather than the WISD. I would expect the other transportation departments around the county who did not participate in the full program to respond in a similar fashion. As to the comment of "teachers win again", I would respond that while a good bus driver is an important part of the system, bus drivers do not need 5 years of formal education to attain their CDL, and the type of student contact, even in the case of special education, is not what one could define as "complex". I speak from experience, I drove bus full time for several years and I still help out from time to time.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 8:37 a.m.

AAPS wanted its drivers to take a 10% hit plus another 5 when WISD took over. But its transportation dept would have become WISD in one year. The school board had decided on June 25 to eliminate transportation altogether and eliminate its overhead right then and there. Leaving a lot of drivers in the lurch and no job or recourse with its union. Lincoln only did this to appease the parents. Nothing else. WISD will totally take them over in less then 2 years. Teachers win again.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Lots of credit to the Teamsters, Superintendent Cleary and the Board for coming up with a compromise. The agreement sounds fair vs. the alternative.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:05 p.m.

Am I to assume that if the union did not concede, all of the bus drivers would have been out of jobs? Moreover, now Lincoln's bus drivers are using the WISD routes, and the WISD health plan? It sounds to me like Lincoln just didn't want to fire its bus drivers but wanted the benefits of WISD all the same. I must commend Lincoln's board for finding a compromise that does not abandon its principles or its people.