Guam – Because of the dire shortage of school buses, the men and woman who drive them have had to work double shifts driving the buses that are working in order to get students to and from their schools. That means overtime, but the school bus drivers are not getting paid any overtime.
Transportation Committee Chairman Senator Tom Ada wants to find out why.
Ada told PNC News that he has been told that managers asked the bus driver to give up their overtime so the money could be used to buy parts to repair buses. And the Senator says he was told that the bus drivers voluntarily agreed to give up their overtime.
“They give up their OT,” said Ada, but he questions why there are still not enough parts to repair the buses.
The GFT represents the school bus driver and President Matt Rector doesn’t believe the bus drivers voluntarily gave up their overtime. Rector blames DPW for trying to balance its budget on the backs of the workers. He says it’s hard to verify the amount of overtime that is owed to the bus drivers because accurate records have not been kept. But he also says if the drivers want to get paid the overtime they’ve worked, they need to file a grievance. None have.
Rector told PNC News “Unfortunately the way the law is written the union can not file a grievance on behalf of the workers. The workers have to stand up and put their name on the grievance. That’s a difficult thing for folks to stick their heads up and they get their heads chopped off time and time again.”
Rector understands that some bus drivers may be afraid to file a grievance. “We are always here to help them,” he said. “And when they are ready to stand up, we are always ready to back them.”
Senator Ada believes the best way to get the parts needed to repair the buses not to cut overtime, but to increase DPW’s maintenance budget from $85,000 to just over $600,000.
“The way DPW has been able to keep their buses running on a low budget,” he said, “is whenever a bus comes in for a minor mechanical problem, it is cannibalized. they will take a bus, take off all the working parts, sacrifice that one bus to repair another 2 – 3 buses. And when the next bus comes, in its a feeding frenzy.”
Ada cited a recent example of a new 2005 school bus that came in with two bald rear tires. That bus he says is now in the bus graveyard because so many of its parts where scavenged to repair other buses.
Ada says he will hold yet another oversight hearing on the school bus crisis in about two or three weeks.