HomeDriversWashington Law Provides Contracted Bus Drivers Same Benefits as District Employees

Washington Law Provides Contracted Bus Drivers Same Benefits as District Employees

Contracted school bus drivers in Washington state will receive benefits parity to school district employees, thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last month.

HB1248 closes a loophole that “previously allowed school bus drivers to fall through the cracks, being left with inferior-to-no healthcare and benefits packages as compared to their fellow bus drivers working for school districts directly,” according to Teamsters Union Local 174.

The law states that a school district may only enter into, renew or extend a pupil transportation services contract with a private company if the company provides employer health benefits and an amount equivalent to the salaries of the employees of the “of the private nongovernmental entity multiplied by the employer normal cost contribution rate determined under the entry age cost method for the school employees’ retirement system, as published in the most recent actuarial valuation report from the office of the state actuary for the first year of the contract.”

Additionally, all pupil transportation contracts entered into or modified after June 6, 2024 must include a detailed explanation of any contract cost increases by year, expenditure type and amount, including any increases in costs that result from providing benefits. For contracts entered, renewed or extended this year, the benefits must be provided to employees by the start of the 2025-2026 school year.

Members of Teamsters Local 174 went on strike for eight days in 2018 against contractor First Student in a battle for better and more affordable health care. Prior to the strike, members reportedly had little access to healthcare. After the strike, members won better healthcare and some retirement benefits, but Teamsters Local 174 said there was “still a massive gap between what they were offered as compared to what school district bus drivers were receiving as public employees.”

Teamsters Local 174 claimed this allowed contracting companies to “pad their profits” while districts also saved money on buying costs.


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“This bill is a life-changing and historic victory for our members as well as nonunion school bus drivers doing contract school bus driving in Washington,” said Teamsters Joint Council 28 President Rick Hicks in a statement. “It has taken years of hard work, but this law makes the fight entirely worth it. We have closed a loophole that put a heavy burden on contracted school bus drivers for a long time, and we can now celebrate this win knowing that Teamsters and non-Teamsters alike will have access to the benefits they rightly deserve for the challenging work they perform every day, caring for our most precious cargo.”

HB1248 was first introduced in the Washington legislature last year. It passed the House and Senate on March 7 and was signed into law on March 28.

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