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Tacoma bus driver ‘sick out’ continues for a third day

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TACOMA, Wash. — Wednesday marks the third consecutive day that a large number of Tacoma Public Schools bus drivers called in sick to work, leaving parents of the special needs students they serve scrambling to find alternative transportation or wait for a late bus.

Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said 22 bus drivers called in sick on Wednesday. On Tuesday, 26 bus drivers called in sick, and on Monday, it was 24.

These drivers are employed by the school district and serve about 750 special needs students.

Parents should be receiving a voice mail this morning with instructions on how to proceed.

Parents have been told for the past two days to either wait for a delayed bus to arrive or to bring the children to school.

District officials say they still aren’t sure why the drivers are calling in sick. The drivers’ union, Operating Engineers Local 286,  says it has nothing to do with the coordinated call-ins.

“(We have) become aware of numerous absences in the transportation department at Tacoma Schools.  The union has not coordinated, nor condones a work stoppage in any way shape or form.  The union is committed to supporting students safe transport to and from school,” union representative Dane Rawlins said in a prepared statement.

Parents are speculating that it’s over pay, but the district says it gave drivers a bigger raise than they had bargained for.

Voelpel said the drivers do have sick days, and as of Tuesday there were no plans to discipline the drivers.

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