Parents warn of serious consequences by potential bus driver strike

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — As union bus drivers and monitors of First Student threaten a strike beginning this Wednesday, parents in West Warwick warn of serious side effects for children and families.

Members of SEIU 1199 are calling for 30 hours of guaranteed work each week. They threatened the strike last week, as negotiations continue into Tuesday. This strike would impact students in Cranston, West Warwick, and Lincoln.

Ben Frail, a father of two boys at Wakefield Hills Elementary School, is now forced to take time away from work and drive his boys across town. His wife was recently deployed as a member of the National Guard.

“I don’t want to sit here and watch this,” said Frail. “It’s a bad situation for everyone involved.”

“There are times where I have got to sit there and tell my boss, ‘Hey, this 1 o’clock meeting, I can’t make it,’ am I going to get written up? Am I going to get fired? I can’t sit there and call my wife and say, ‘Hey, can you pick the boys up?’ She is not here,” he continued.

If the strike were to begin early Wednesday morning, Frail said his son who has a learning disability would be dismissed early from school.

He explained, “He now has to get dismissed early from school to accommodate for this strike, and that’s taking away from his education. It’s great that you’re negotiating– this country was built on compromise. Sometimes compromise can be made without saying, ‘Hey, I’m not going to do my job.'”

Frail considers himself lucky, as he fears other frustrated parents in the community may have to make more serious changes.

“‘Do I make money to keep a roof over my head and food on my table, or do I go and pick my kids up from school? My kids are more important than anything else in this world. I have a job and a boss who is very understanding of that, but not everybody does,” he concluded.

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