On November 9th, CSEA Members of the Hartford Bus Council spoke before City Council Members to demand that the City of Hartford, and the Board of Ed follow the Governor’s Executive order which secures wages and continuing of services during school shutdowns.
At this time, the Hartford Board of Education has not yet entered into an agreement to continue to pay Autumn Transportation, and its employees, during COVID-related shutdowns. Hartford Schools are now following the hybrid model which means that every Wednesday is fully remote.
The drivers won’t be working and lose a day’s worth of pay every week for the duration of the hybrid schedule, and risk losing more pay if the school goes fully remote. Drivers can no longer rely on unemployment because most if not all have used up their credits and they can’t file unemployment for just one day.
Below please read the testimony from two CSEA Members, Cheryl Ewing and Patricia Gaskin:
“Hello my name is Cheryl Ewing, I’ve worked as a school bus Special Ed Driver for the Hartford Public Schools for 4 years. I join my fellow union member Patricia Gaskin and Aracelis Coriano, in their concerns.
Our Union, CSEA, represents many other yards, like New Haven, and we have ensured worker’s wages and a roof over their head in these times of uncertainty. Even with a remote learning system, front line school bus transportation workers in every town which CSEA represents, other than Hartford, continue to receive their paychecks even when the busses don’t leave the yard.
We must retain our workforce. Why don’t Hartford workers have the same guarantee for wages?
Next week we will move to a hybrid learning system, 4 days a week or less. Who will pay us for our lost day of work?
What happens if we move to a full online system? How will we put food on our table? Unemployment is no longer an option, we have used almost all of our credits.
Please consider this. We are demanding the city of Hartford follow the steps of other cities who have ensured wages and job security for front line workers transporting precious cargo — the children of this city. Thank you.”
“Hello my name is Patricia Gaskin, I’ve worked as a school bus monitor for the Hartford Public Schools for 20 years.
Let me tell you what is going on. Many months ago during the first wave of the pandemic, Governor Lamont issued an executive order that directed Towns to continue paying municipal and Board of Education front line workers, including school bus drivers and monitors. In every municipality where CSEA represents school bus workers, except Hartford, we have been successful in working with towns to ensure school bus workers continue to receive their full pay, even when students are attending class online.
In Hartford, we don’t yet know whether we will be receiving our full pay if Hartford moves to online learning. Many of us live paycheck to paycheck, and we cannot afford to lose even one day of pay.
We are here today to ask members of the City Council to make sure that bus drivers and monitors receive their full pay when Hartford moves to a hybrid learning model or online only. This is a matter of survival for me and my members. And, it is in everyone’s interest to do what we can to retain the talented and dedicated workers who provide school bus transportation services.
During the pandemic, Hartford has received millions of State and Federal dollars. Like other cities and towns, Hartford was told why they were getting the money and how it should be spent. A lot of that money was to make sure front line service workers continued to receive pay, especially during school closures.
I’ll say it again: in Hartford AND ONLY IN HARTFORD, we do not yet have an agreement that will guarantee that we continue to receive our full pay, in keeping with the spirit of the Governor’s Executive Order.
Our union has been in touch with Speaker Ritter about this issue. The speaker and the whole Hartford delegation have fought hard for CARES Act transportation dollars and this is something they’ll be watching.
I know that all of us working together can fix this problem. Thank you.”