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Berkeley Co. school bus drivers go on strike to demand equal treatment, better working conditions

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 9:55 PM EST
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MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) – More than two dozen school bus drivers went on strike to demand equal treatment and better working conditions from the Berkeley County School District.

The drivers at the Berkeley Bus Lot, at 650 Whitesville Road, gathered Friday afternoon to make their voices heard.

“Some people, actually, some drivers are doing two to three routes a day,” said Yvonne Williams, one of the organizers of the demonstration. “In the mornings -- and like she said more than that -- so for that reason we have so much, and we are just getting tired. We are not being heard. We are addressing it, but we are not being heard, so today, we would like to discuss being fair to us because of our loyalty to Berkeley County.”

The Berkeley Bus Lot serves the following schools in the district:

  • Berkeley Elementary
  • Berkeley Intermediate
  • Berkeley Middle
  • Berkeley High School
  • Cane Bay Elementary
  • Cane Bay Middle
  • Cane Bay High
  • Foxbank Elementary School
  • Whitesville Elementary School

The school district sent the following message to parents after learning of the demonstration:

“BCSD leadership received a report from our Berkeley area transportation lot supervisor that they are working to cover afternoon transportation routes for approximately 30 bus drivers.

“Each school will have one to two buses assigned to their location this afternoon, and these drivers will be completing multiple turnaround routes. This will result in significant delays. BCSD will continue to operate buses with all drivers available; however, it is important to understand the current transportation challenge we are facing regarding the shortage of drivers for afternoon routes today in the Berkeley lot. Please prepare, as much as possible, for delays.

“If you are a parent or guardian of a bus rider, we encourage you to transport your child(ren) or coordinate carpool transportation for your child(ren), if possible, this afternoon. This will allow for buses to be utilized primarily by those who do not have any other transportation option. Again, BCSD will continue to operate buses serving the Berkeley lot with all drivers available; however, we do anticipate and ask that you prepare for significant delays.”

Cheryl Grooms has been a bus driver in Berkeley County for over 30 years. She said drivers like herself have been stressed and overworked to their breaking point.

“It’s stressful for everybody,” Grooms said. “It’s really stressful for us, and we’re all starting to show the stress. We want everybody to understand we want to be safe. We want to be safe for our children. We want to be safe for us. We want to go home at the end of the day, and we can’t do that at this point.”

Bus driver Yvette Brown said one of the most important demands the bus drivers have is an enforced mask mandate to help protect them against COVID-19.

“Because in schools, they want them to obey their rules,” she said, “so the rules for them on the bus are for them to have a mask on, so what makes any difference on the bus versus a school?”

The bus drivers who demonstrated on Friday said they will reconvene on Monday at 6 a.m. outside of school district headquarters in Moncks Corner.

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