Wake County Schools

Wake school bus drivers walk out in pay dispute

Posted October 30, 2015

— Dozens of school buses were running behind schedule Friday afternoon after a number of Wake County school bus drivers refused to get behind the wheel in protest over their pay.

Several drivers told WRAL News that they are tired of living from one paycheck to the next and feel Wake County Public School System administrators haven't lived up to promises to increase their pay.

"When I woke up this morning and tried to pay my bills, I didn't know which one to pay. I have no money to pay my bills," driver Gwen Smith said.

School district spokeswoman Heather Lawing said the dispute was traced to a problem processing pay for bus drivers.

Last month, the Board of Education approved a 3 percent raise for non-classroom school staff, including bus drivers, but the raise wasn't included in some drivers' paychecks Friday, depending on when their hours were entered into the payroll system, Lawing said. The district was cutting new checks or sending money through direct deposit to correct the error, she said.

Bus driver Deanna McDonald said it goes further than the payroll mix up.

"Things are getting worse every year," she said. "I have lost my home. I have to sleep in my car with my kids."

The walkout hit only five transportation districts within the school system, Lawing said, and district officials kept parents updated through Twitter and automated phone calls.

Some bus routes could be delayed up to an hour, and the Transportation Department was working on the issue, officials said in the automated call. Officials noted in the call that there were "a large number of drivers who are absent this afternoon."

Still, parents weren't pleased with the Friday afternoon surprise.

Lawing said district officials had no warning of the walkout themselves, and they pulled in substitute drivers and put administrators with certified licenses to drive buses behind the wheel to get as many buses on the road as possible.

"We had very good response once we realized this was happening," she said. "That is how we have been able to minimize the delays and minimize the impact on students and families."

About 50 schools were affected by the strike, according to the district website.

Transportation administrators—who were certified—took on routes to cover the driverless busses, according to officials. Drivers who did not take part in the strike also helped finished the routes of missing drivers.


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  • Norman Lewis Oct 31, 2015
    user avatar

    We are talking maybe $15 a week difference. You would walk out, make students late, interfere with the educational process for $15? And if you are living in a car with your kids as one person states, I doubt $15 extra will make a mortgage payment and pay taxes to give you a house. You made a calculated emotional appeal to stir people up but some of us know how to think.

  • Dmitry Suemeov Oct 31, 2015
    user avatar

    Do like the rest of us here in America,.......If you don't like your pay, then get another job!!!!

  • Dean Morron Oct 31, 2015
    user avatar

    Somewhere between $12.00 - $19.00, depending I suppose years of service, is the hourly rate for WCPSS bus drivers.

    On the higher end that's almost 38 K per year. While not a stellar wage it is better than a 40 hour week at Wally World, McDee's , etc. Many people make much, much less and seem to manage their bills quite well.

    Want to make more ? Further your education, get a part time job or adjust your spending.

  • Tommy Frieda Holloman Oct 31, 2015
    user avatar

    Maybe walking out wasn't the best thing to do under the circumstances....However, most of the people on here wouldn't last 15 minutes driving a bus...So unless you've done it and put up with the administrations, poor pay for the responsibility, and the general nuisance of 45 kids screaming in your ear for an hour plus, you need to quit slamming these folks...Besides all of them had to pass a tough drivers test and a drug screen....Could you?

  • Crystal Potter Oct 30, 2015
    user avatar

    I can tell I'm in the south! Every northern state has dedicated bus drivers. Meaning that all they do is drive. And they get paid well because the state knows that they carry precious cargo. A relative of mine in this not so glorious state works in the school system as a T.A. She works over an eleven hour day first transporting our kids to school, co teaching and back out transporting kids back home. This is the case for most drivers. Either in the classroom, office or cafeteria or doing janitorial duties. If they are going to be worked like dogs they should be well compensated.

  • B.c. Jimmy Oct 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Fire them.

  • Corey Taft Oct 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Good for them! If you don't appreciate the bus drivers, drive your own kids. I remember Ralph Kramden struggling to support a wife in a one room apartment and am a bit shocked that things haven't changed. People should be paid well to deal with your kids. Just because its not how you support your family, you shouldn't stop people from trying to support theirs. Make the kids walk five miles up hill, both ways, just like parents tell their kids they did.

  • Tom Laurence Oct 30, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Glad your daughter got home safely and on time. Sounds like her bus driver is a Gem. :)

  • hockeygalnc Oct 30, 2015

    My daughter's arrived on time and I thanked her profusely for driving them home. She said don't worry about it. I found out from my daughter that before she pulled away from the school she stood up and told the children she would never leave them and they may hear about other drivers walking out. But she would never do that to them. She goes above and beyond For the kids on the bus. She will be getting a small token of appreciation on Monday from us.

  • Tom Laurence Oct 30, 2015
    user avatar

    [quote=15045163]Post by Travae Willis[/quote

    As a High School student, I drove a school bus and would have NEVER purposely joined a walk-out that....yes....abandoned the children. Yes, its a job, and you can call in sick - but these drivers did this on purpose, and that is just wrong. If I had participated in such action - my parents would have "handled" me in fast fashion - trust me...because I was raised with morals and responsibility. Yes, the pay is lousy....but they knew that when they accepted the job. Just sayin..