Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Las Cruces school bus strike is on hold as negotiations resume next week

LAS CRUCES – With the expiration date of their union contract looming, members of the bus drivers union of Las Cruces Transportation Federation Local # 6341 hold off the strike while negotiations take place.

On Tuesday, more than 98 percent of drivers in the union voted to allow a strike if no new contract is concluded before the current contract expires on Sunday.

The union and its employer, Student Transportation Specialists New Mexico, held their first face-to-face negotiations on Thursday. American Federation of Teachers Western Region Director Ramiro Hernandez, who assisted the bus drivers in their negotiations, said the meeting said “no progress” had been made in developing a new contract.

However, LCTF President Dean Abrams said the union is looking at options to extend the current contract for a few weeks during the negotiations.

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He said strikes are a drastic measure that motorists want to avoid.

In a new contract, LCTF Local # 6341 calls for updated safety language, updated sick day allocations, higher wages and benefits, and the elimination of staff shortages.

Of the 120 bus routes in Las Cruces Public Schools, there are about 23 driver shortages that other drivers have to address by covering additional distances, Abrams said. With the COVID-19 safe practices of the capacity limits, the bottlenecks are becoming even more difficult to manage.

If a strike does break out, the vast majority of students who take the bus will not have reliable transportation to school until negotiations are concluded.

LCPS reported in August that over 7,000 students rely on school buses to get to school.

Miranda Cyr, a member of the Report for America corps, can be reached at [email protected] or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.

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