A federal mediator will meet with First Student and the Teamsters Local 174 Thursday, in an effort to end Seattle's five-day school bus strike.
The news of the two sides heading back to the bargaining table came late Wednesday as teachers staged a walkout in support of their bus drivers.
At the intersection of Martin Luther King and Rainier Avenue South, teachers joined a growing chorus of voices, asking where is the district's leadership?
"Obviously I think they should be doing more," said fifth-grade teacher Nathan Barnes of Maple Elementary.
"Just because the district has subcontracted with somebody else doesn't mean that we don't also feel a responsibility that those people are taken care of in a way that they can be confident in their jobs secure in their jobs," Barnes said.
"I just want a little more information from the top of the district about what we're doing to try to solve this problem," said third-grade teacher Maria Herman.
Seattle Public Schools contracts with First Student for transportation of 12,000 students in the district.
First Student has stated repeatedly it is waiting for the bus drivers' union to respond after the company made its last offer.
"They refused to counter," said First Student's lead negotiator Kim Mingo Tuesday. "They went out on strike. So the ball is in their court."
Should the district be doing more to get the two sides back to the bargaining table? So far our requests to the school board leadership have gone unanswered.
Late Wednesday the district spokesperson issued a statement that said, in part: "First Student and the Teamsters Union 174 are private parties and are working with a federal mediator to resolve the contract issues. For now, the best course of action is urging both sides to work with the mediator and reach a fair resolution.”
City Council Member Kshama Sawant, never shying away from her pro-labor position, wrote a letter to the district told hold First Student to its contract.
Her letter asked, "Has the District started fining First Student $1.2 million per day as you suggested last October?"
"Those fines give a leverage to the school board to force First Student to bargain in good faith," Sawant said.