School bus drivers face 40% cut in hours, pay

Bus drivers protest hour and pay cuts outside the Wilson Building Monday. Photo: Sam Ford/ABC7

School bus drivers in D.C. are still upset over their hours being cut this summer. They took their fight to the Wilson Building Monday.

Between shifts, school bus drivers showed up by the hundreds to protest what they say will be a 40 percent cut in hours and pay during the summer.

“By the time they take out taxes... by the time they take health insurance, we’re not going to have nothing, maybe $100,” say Wilma Ellis, a school bus driver.

The bus system has been in federal receivership for a decade, but the city resumed control six months ago.

Geo T. Johnson of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union says city officials approached him and said they would not be hiring all the bus employees this summer as they did last year. He says either they would hire all of them for four hours a day or they would just hire the ones they wanted and furlough the rest. Johnson says he chose all of them.

The driver’s local president said it’s a bad deal and that members would be better off financially on unemployment.

“It’s a disrespectful situation,” says Andrew Washington. “I mean, for this to happen for the way that they did this, there’s no way in the world that these members can live off the money that they’re trying to give them.”

Most council members were absent Monday, but the drivers caught up to Chairman Phil Mendelson.

“We’ll make some inquiries and find out what’s going on,” Meldelson says. “I can assure you it’s not an action the Council took recently, participating [in] this.”

Afterward, the workers gathered across the street at Freedom Circle, formed a large circle, said a prayer and vowed to return.