May/June 2022 Issue
April 16, 2022

Steering toward respect Lisbon bus drivers secure salaries, improved pay, benefits

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT United
bus drivers
Caption: From left, bus drivers Theresa Kroger, Janet Schembry and Dominic Testani, all members of the Lisbon Association of Non-Instructional Employees local, recently secured a new contract that improves pay and benefits. Photos provided.

The contract is a testament to union power to help with the nationwide shortage of school bus drivers and improve the working conditions of members.

“The district had problems filling all the positions. Some (bus drivers) were thinking about leaving prior to this, but have since decided to stay,” said Royal Taylor, president of the Lisbon ANIE union.

Prior to this contract, drivers and monitors were paid by the hour, which meant they had no income during holiday breaks and spring breaks. Most of them were laid off during the pandemic.

“It is hard to go through Christmas and other holiday shutdowns without a paycheck. Having a salary now is really helpful on the finances as there is no holiday on the car payment and mortgage,” Taylor said.

The three starting salary bus driver position categories are $21,000 for drivers working four hours per day, $31,500 for six hours and $42,000 for eight hours. Bus monitors will now earn starting salaries of $11,004 for four hours per day, $16,505 for six hours and $22,008 for eight hours.

Additional bus runs for sports, band, field trips, any scholastic, extra-curricular or other trips are at an hourly rate. The contract also secures improved meal rates for those drivers.

Previously, drivers have had to scramble hard to find a meal at $6 for breakfast, $8 for lunch, or $12 for supper.

Under the new contract, drivers secured a flat $20 per meal.

The contract also includes procedures to fairly distribute extra bus runs; establishes layoff and recall procedures for the first time; and provides access to a comprehensive health insurance plan and the ability to maintain health insurance in retirement.

The Lisbon ANIE has 28 non-instructional categories of job titles, including food service helper, bus driver, cleaner, monitor, cook, custodial worker, custodian and keyboard specialist.

The union established itself as the bargaining unit for the bus drivers and monitors, and then negotiated from September 2021 to February 2022 to secure this contract under the guidance of NYSUT labor relations specialist Robert Smith.