October 17, 2023 By Carol Britton Meyer
A successor (2023-2026) agreement with the Hingham Public Schools Bus and Van Drivers Association was ratified by the School Committee last night.
“We met with this union twice before coming to a tentative agreement. The Committee thanks the bus and van driver negotiating team, Sandy Fischer and Suzanne Tocchio, for their professionalism and thoughtful discussion,” School Committee member Kerry Ni, who sits on the Salary and Negotiations Subcommittee of the School Committee, said. “We also thank Padraig Cunningham, HPS Transportation Supervisor, for his assistance with the bargaining process.”
Here are the changes in the new agreement:
- An increase in wages, including an equity adjustment to match neighboring districts. The starting salary is raised to $31/hour, with 3% cost-of-living increases in years two and three of the contract. “This brings our driver salaries up to the level of neighboring towns,” Ni said.
- Other changes to increase student and staff safety “and to ensure the continued health of our transportation department.”
- Raised trip minimum for trips with round-trip mileage of 30 miles or more from 3 to 4 hours.
- Leaves of absence — drivers are required to give two weeks’ notice on forms provided by the district.
- Surveillance cameras are on Hingham Public Schools buses for safety reasons, and drivers consent to be recorded as a condition of employment.
- Increased bonus for safe driving and a clearer definition of what that is (such as no citations for moving violations, no discipline on file).
- Add Juneteenth as a paid holiday if school is in session on that date.
- Reduce vacation entitlement from 5 years of service to 3 (drivers receive 4 paid vacation days during April break if they have worked for the district for three years).
- One additional sick day (increase from 5 to 6).
- Sick leave — drivers give notice if foreseeable, and on forms provided by the district.
- For the months of February and April, an increase in the perfect attendance bonus from $50 to $75.
- Additional personal day (from 1 to 2).
- Increase longevity pay by $50 for all levels.
- Enable the district to offer commercial drivers license training for van drivers so they can become bus drivers. “This training costs thousands of dollars to obtain, but if the district offers it, van drivers can access it for free,” Ni said. “Additionally, any driver who takes advantage of this training will receive a stipend of $1,000 per year for up to 3 years if they work as a Hingham bus driver. This will allow the School Department to grow the transportation department from within and retain drivers.”