Seattle school bus drivers voted to approve a new contract Saturday morning, ending a week-long bus drivers' strike. Bus service for students will resume on Monday.
"By a 97% margin, we have an incredible new contract. These guys are going to get health care. They're going to get pension. They're going to get a raise. And starting in the final year of the contract, they're going to get family coverage that they can afford, so their children can go to the doctor too. This is awesome," said Jamie Fleming, director of communications at Teamsters 174.
"Monday you're going to see a lot of smiling faces behind the wheels of school buses. Everybody's going to be back to work," she added.
A fully-recommended tentative agreement was reached Friday after both sides met with a federal mediator on Thursday. Talks continued through the night until Friday morning.
The agreement addressed the main sticking points, which had been over health care and retirement benefits.
"I think that this is going to be a big, huge deal for the rest of the country. Everybody's watching to see what happens here. And so now that we see it is achievable to get healthcare and pension, I think we're going to see other areas follow suit. That's incredible for everyone," said Fleming.
Seattle Public Schools contracts with First Student for transportation of 12,000 students in the district.
Drivers were downright giddy as they left the union meeting with a new contract with retirements and health benefits. The deal gives driver Olivia Moore health insurance so she can get treatment for skin cancer.
“It's very costly," Moore said. "They want to do a lot of treatments that I can't afford."
Since her diagnosis in the fall, Moore has had to pick and choose how vigorously she fights Basal Cell Carcinoma.
“They want to do localized radiation therapy, and they want to do some chemo, because it's on multiple parts of my body, because it's a cancer that spreads," she said.
Getting the wheels on the bus rolling again is happy news for families caught in the middle of the dispute. Six-year-old twins Giada and Chloe missed out on a field trip to the ballet.
“It's kind of hard for kindergartners to understand the impacts of why they can't go somewhere,” Mom Sheri Bellelli said. “It's nice I can tell them it's over and they will be able to go on their field trips.”
They will be a welcome sight rolling along Seattle streets. Moore says it's been hard being away from her kids at Montlake Elementary and Washington Middle School.
“I'm so excited to see them on Monday," Moore said. "I've missed them so much.”