Walkout: Parents and WCPSS scramble to prepare for bus driver work stoppage

Joel Brown Image
Friday, October 29, 2021
Parents and WCPSS scramble to prepare for bus driver work stoppage
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The Wake County Public School System is bracing for a possible school bus driver walkout on Friday as they demand better pay and working conditions.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Debra Sparks was one of the thousands of Wake County moms and dads who got the alert from Wake Schools this afternoon: "prepare backup transportation plans."

The district is preparing for a possible school bus driver walkout on Friday.

"I got the alert when i was in carpool line at the elementary school today," Sparks said. "My reaction was trying to figure out, OK, how am I going to get everybody where they need to go where they need to go for tomorrow."

WCPSS is urging parents to download the Here Comes the Bus phone app for real-time updates on specific school buses as potentially dozens or hundreds of drivers take the next step in a months-long fight against poor working conditions and for higher pay.

"No, I don't plan to participate and I never was. I prefer to come into work," said Zac Campbell who has been on the front lines of the fight. He has driven Wake school buses for the past two years and has been speaking out at school board meetings and the state legislature in the push for higher pay and better working conditions.

Campbell argues that a strike is a bad idea. He wants negotiations not a work stoppage.

"I mean, I support them. I understand their frustration. But there are a lot of things that you can do before you have to go and strike," Campbell said.

Juneakcia Green won't be on her Wake school bus Friday. But only because she's home sick with RSV -- a respiratory virus she said she believes she caught from her student passengers.

Wake's depleted driver numbers mean drivers have gone from serving two schools a day to five or six -- with no extra pay for the extra routes. Green supports a walkout.

"I would be (walking out)," Green said. "I just really feel like it's time. You have other jobs where they give people raises for cost of living. We don't get that. It's hard out here. You can't do life - you can't do adulting while making high school part-time money."

Back at the Sparkses, Debra plans on driving one daughter to school tomorrow and is arranging a ride for her son. They're prepared for Friday but hoping for a timely resolution.

"I'm trying to take it one day at a time," Sparks said. "That's what we've learned in this pandemic. Trying to just take it one day at a time."

Drivers like Campbell and Green say they aren't even sure how many drivers plan to walk off the job Friday. It could be 20; could be 200. The Here comes the Bus app is already sending alerts to some parents about changes. The app could be a useful tool on Friday for families.