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Lakota bus drivers agree to end strike, approve new contract

Lakota bus drivers went on strike last Friday
Zack Carreon
Lakota bus drivers went on strike last Friday.

Bus drivers at Lakota Local Schools will return to work on Friday after reaching a tentative agreement on a new contract with the district's transportation provider, Petermann.

Drivers had been on strike since last Friday after both parties failed to reach a resolution after months of negotiating. During that time, the Lakota district was unable to provide transportation for most of its students, requiring them to find their own rides to school.

A few days into the strike, Lakota was able to find some drivers from Petermann willing to cross the picket line to provide limited busing for students with disabilities.

Get caught up: Lakota bus drivers strike over contract dispute

The union met with Petermann on Wednesday to work out a new deal. After the discussion, the two parties released a joint statement announcing a tentative agreement on a three-year contract.

According to a post by the drivers' union Local 100, union members voted to approve the deal with 86% of drivers supporting it. Local 100 says it commends the drivers' dedication to Lakota students and their commitment to safety.

The main conflict between drivers and Petermann revolved around the use of surveillance cameras on school buses to monitor drivers while they're on the clock. Bus drivers on the picket line told WVXU the new camera system was crossing a line. They claimed the camera footage could be used to discipline or even fire drivers over minor infractions.

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Neither party has clarified the details of the agreement regarding surveillance with WVXU, but a release by Lakota Schools says the safety and accountability measures requested by Petermann were included in the deal.

Transportation for Lakota students will resume Friday morning.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.