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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

IPS, drivers union reach agreement after labor dispute

The agreement, reached Friday, should prevent further disruption to IPS transportation for the remainder of the school year.
IPS buses are parked in a lot at Northwest Middle School in this WTHR file photo from February, 2020. (WTHR/File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Indianapolis Public Schools announced Sunday night that they have reached an agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that represents the district's bus drivers and attendants.

The agreement, reached Friday, comes in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by both IPS and AFSCME union leadership, and should prevent further disruption to IPS transportation for the remainder of the school year.

IPS had to cancel bus service on Friday, Feb. 28 when 95 drivers and attendants called off work. Many students missed class that day.

The district began negotiating with the union, which did not endorse the call offs, on plans to ensure proper staffing going forward.

The MOU, which still must be ratified by the IPS board Monday night, includes bonuses and transition assistance for IPS transportation employees whose contract with the district ends in June.

In January, IPS voted to move all district bus transportation to a company called First Student Transportation. That move will take effect July 1, 2020. Drivers, bus attendants and some staff members were left to reapply for their jobs with First Student for the new school year.

In a joint statement announcing the agreement, Ron Richmond, the AFSCME Director of Communications, said, “AFSCME realizes the difficulty of this transition for all affected. We appreciate the drivers and attendants who have dedicated many years of service to this community, and thank them for their patience as we finalized this agreement.”

IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said, “We are excited to resume reliable transportation service for the district. While we acknowledge that the majority of our drivers reported to work, it was a smaller percentage who did not that caused a major disruption to bus service for thousands of our students. However, this agreement should provide relief to our families who were left to wonder how to transport their students to and from school during our disruption in service. We appreciate their patience while IPS and AFSCME union leadership worked through the logistics.”