Fairborn schools withdraws motion to investigate if bus drivers calling off was unauthorized strike

Fairborn City Schools withdrew its motion to determine whether a large number of bus drivers that called off on Monday was considered an unauthorized strike.

The district and the union met online with the Ohio State Employment Relations Board on Thursday morning to discuss the issue. They announced the decision after discussing in private.

The school board and the union came to an agreement that due to a high amount of absences on Oct. 12, there was an interruption in district operations, according to a statement from the school district. The union will continue to commit to “not unlawfully encouraging, inciting or otherwise sanctioning any work stoppage, slow down or interruption in district operations,” the statement said.

“The board and (union) remain committed to discussing issues in an amicable fashion in the future,” the statement read.

Fairborn had about a third of its bus drivers call off on Monday and was forced to send all students to school remotely, said Fairborn Superintendent Gene Lolli. Students were back in person on Tuesday and Wednesday, although they had to find an alternative way of getting to school on Wednesday.

Fairborn City Schools posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday morning that a number of bus drivers were quarantining due to being exposed to the coronavirus. This left the district without enough drivers to make all bus routes. The district encouraged all families to have a back up plan to get their child to school. Bus drivers did take students home on Wednesday.

Students had transportation to school on Thursday, although some bus routes might have been delayed, said Pam Gayheart, Fairborn City Schools spokeswoman.

Stacey Benson-Taylor, regional director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 8, which is the parent organization of the union that represents bus drivers, said bus drivers may have called off for coronavirus-related reasons, but this was “absolutely not” an authorized work stoppage or a coordinated effort on the employees part. The Dayton Public Service Union is the union that represents the Fairborn bus drivers.

No representative authorized or initiated a work stoppage, she said.

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