DeKalb School Bus Driver Sickout Comes To An End With Little Changes

DeKalb County school bus drivers have completed a three-day sick out.

DeKalb County school bus drivers have now finished their three-day sick out. It started last Thursday as a protest for higher wages, better retirement benefits and improved working conditions.

On the first day, 383 of the district’s 908 drivers didn’t show up for work. Seven were fired as a result of the demonstration.

“We identified and have evidence that they were part of organizing or orchestrating this sick out,” DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green said. “Therefore, we have terminated their employment with DeKalb County and they’ve received letters of that effect.”

On the second day, about a quarter of the county’s driver called in sick. Monday was the final planned day and 63 drivers didn’t show up.

WABE spoke with a driver who asked us not to use her name for fear of retaliation. She’s been with the county for more than a decade and said she thinks the sick-out was successful.

“I don’t know if a change is going to come or not but the awareness is out there now for others to come step in and take a look and see what is Dr. Green doing for the bus drivers,” the county bus driver said.

Green held meetings with the bus drivers and representatives two days before the strike and the day of. The county bus driver WABE spoke with said meetings are the only thing that’s happened and no concrete changes have been offered.

Information from the We Support DeKalb Bus Drivers group shows drivers are offered a $10 a month retirement package from the county. The group said drivers are also referred to private companies for retirement benefits and those who have been with the county for more than 10 years can get a $140 a month pension plan. But the group calls that “unlivable.”

Green said DeKalb’s school bus drivers are among the best compensated in the area and are given a good retirement package. He said he has no timeline for when drivers can expect to see changes.

“I’m willing to sit down with them and have that discussion,” Green said. “We’re going to lay the facts out on the table and make sure that there’s a full understanding of what it is and what it provides.”

Another meeting between Green and bus driver representatives is scheduled for Thursday. Green said he will give drivers some time to provide a doctor’s note before rolling out a tiered punishment system.