If union members vote to request authorization to call a strike, thousands of North Hills students may be without rides.By Royce Jones

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After spending more than two years at the bargaining table, bus drivers and monitors who work for ABC Transit voted 31-6 to reject the contract and authorize a strike.

According to Teamsters Local 249 President Kevin Schmitt, members had the option to vote yes and approve the contract, and those who voted no would also be voting to request authorization to call a strike.

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“They deserve to be paid the going rate at least, not less, and get thrown crumbs at them,” said Kevin Schmitt, president of Teamsters Local 249.

Union leaders said some of the most contentious topics were seniority, no-strike language and a two percent pay increase.

“We’ve even tried to bargain unpaid time off with them so that they could get a somewhat attainable bonus. This company offers zero,” said Keith Frank, vice president of Teamsters Local 249.

A representative from ABC Transit says these workers have been pushing for this contract for some time and decided to unionize back in 2019.

The vote will impact thousands of students in the North Hills School District.

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The superintendent addressed concerns about the labor dispute during a board meeting last week.

“I can tell you right now that we are working on a plan should they go on strike and I can also tell you that the plan is also not to send 4,600 kids into a virtual environment. That is not the plan. That is about all I can say about our plan because I don’t want to interfere into a negotiation that’s ongoing and something that we’re not a part of, but I can tell you 4,600 kids are not going virtual,” said Superintendent Patrick Mannarino.

A representative from the district says leaders were already putting together a contingency plan in case the situation boiled over and a strike was authorized.

The union president pointed to the nationwide school bus driver shortage for why ABC should budge at the bargaining table.

He gave no indication that union members would return to their bus routes without their requests being satisfied.

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The union added that it is planning on picketing outside the ABC Transit garage on Hahn Road as soon as Tuesday, but those plans are still being worked out.