ECISD School Bus Drivers Fire Back
Thu, 17 Sep 2009 04:03:23 GMT —
ECISD bus drivers spoke out during a press conference outside the district TMs administration building Wednesday night in support of two fellow drivers who were fired last week for violating a number of school and board policies.
"I don't think it was worth firing over, said Douglas Jenkins who drives a district bus. Punishment maybe a couple of days suspension... termination... I think was a little harsh."
The school board voted 4-2 to terminate the pair.
Bus surveillance video proved to be their downfall.
The video was aired exclusively on Action 4 News.
School district attorney Jacques Trevio said the tape showed multiple violations including failure to properly supervise students and sleeping on the clock.
But Camilo Garza with the Southwest Public Workers' Union, the organization representing the bus drivers, disputed the allegations.
He linked the Transportation Department TMs poor pay with no benefits as a reason why the drivers did not clock out early.
Records we obtained showed the two ex-drivers made on average about $13.00 an hour.
"They weren't milking the clock... it's all a matter of perspective, Garza explained. If you're given a glass of water to drink and you only drink a little bit... and then you take it back... are you stealing from them?"
Hugo Gomez said bus drivers like himself are forced to wait since the district doesn't provide them a facility of their own for breaks.
"We don't have a break room to go and take refreshments... just wait on the bus," he said.
A portion of the video also showed a bus monitor sitting in front of students and talking on the cell phone.
Trevio said both actions violate general policies or proper job duties.
The union claimed district leaders used intimidation tactics to force drivers to fill gaps in manpower and perform unfamiliar duties. "He didn't receive the training to be a bus monitor...he's a bus driver so he didn't know how to do that route," said Garza.
*Click on the video link to see a prepared statement from the ECISD and to hear what other alleged issues the bus drivers face.