CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley says buses will run their normal schedule on Wednesday as negotiations continue between Durham School Services and the Teamsters Local 509.
"I have been assured that both sides want to sincerely come to an agreement and will exhaust every avenue to avoid a work stoppage, including consideration for mediation," McGinley said on Tuesday.
McGinley also stated that both parties will continue negotiations Tuesday night with drivers reporting for their regular schedule routes Wednesday morning.
"We understand that a change can occur at anytime, and urge our parents to continue to make alternative arrangements for their children in the event of a strike," said Jason Sakran, spokesman for the school district."But again tomorrow's school transportation should be normal."
Earlier on Tuesday rumors that Durham School Services representatives walked out of negotiations circulated. However, Durham denied that notion, and also said they increased their offer to the union.
A statement from Durham spokesperson Carina Noble reads:
Durham School Services did not walk out on meetings this morning with the union. We remain committed to reaching an agreement that is beneficial to all parties. In our negotiations session yesterday, we increased our offer but following further discussions this morning, remain unable to meet the unreasonable demands of the union. While the union rejected our offer of mediation made earlier in negotiations, we stand ready to continue discussions, whether through continued negotiations or mediation, should they decide to adjust their demands.
When asked, Durham would not provide an exact figure for the proposed increase.
Meanwhile, the union has asked the Charleston County Sheriff's Office for a set of guidelines to ensure they legally observe a strike, should one happen.
Major Jim Brady with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office said they received a request on Monday from union officials to provide a set of legal guidelines they must obey in the event of strike demonstrations.
Brady said there were no written guidelines for a bus strike, and as long as those picketing and protesting do not violate other laws like disorderly conduct, trespassing, and other various crimes, they would be fine in the eyes of the law.
Brady also said as long as picketers and protesters were on public property, they would have no restrictions.
The Charleston County School District, Dorchester District 2, and Beaufort County School District have remained on regular schedules since unions in each county voted to authorize strikes in January.
On Tuesday, Sakran said normal bus service would continue through the day. Drivers in those districts have said they will not strike as long as negotiations between Durham and the union continue.
Last week, Durham spokesman John Elliott said the company was offering drivers in Charleston County a raise of .45 per hour. At that time, Elliott said the union was holding out for a $1-per-hour raise in wages.
On Friday, the Charleston Area Transit Authority announced they would be willing to offer support in the event of a strike.
"If an emergency situation were to occur we're going to step up to the plate as an organization and make sure we provide for the safety of those children," said CARTA Chairman Elliot Summey.
"If the strike occurs and a child tries to get on our bus we're not going to turn them away," said Summey. "We're not going to require the children to pay or have passes or have to learn how to ride our system. We'll keep a head count of the kids getting on there and we'll figure out a reimbursement system with the school district at some point."