Bus drivers meet over concerns - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bus drivers meet over concerns

October 2, 2007

Albany-  Dougherty County School leaders won't yet say if bus drivers who walked off the job Friday will be disciplined. They met with those drivers Tuesday to discuss concerns over new payroll procedures.  Six meetings had been set up previous to the changeover, but schools officials have decided to go back and meet with the districts 150 drivers again to go over the procedures as many times as it takes.

Dougherty County School officials arrived at 9:30 a.m. to meet with 40 drivers over payroll concerns. Our cameras were shut out, but drivers who left minutes after the meeting started say they're up to speed on the changes.

"With any changes you know you're going to have a few problems and they're going to work those problems out and get the people who were not paid correctly, they'll get that corrected also," said Jane Burgess, a bus driver of 20 years.

Others spent two hours discussing the biggest issue their hourly pay rate. Driver's checks previously showed an hourly rate of more than $18, but that was incorrect because they were paid a flat fee, now many are in shock to see a rate just over $14.

"Because they've been on a base pay for so long they're thinking that they're actually losing, they just put them on an hourly wage and that's something that they're not understanding because they've never seen this side of it until we got paid last Friday," said Linda Williams, a bus driver.

Some drivers still had questions, but plan to meet again with the board.

"We're going to get a panel of us drivers and we're going to get the board and Dr. Whatley and Mr. Lloyd and them and discuss some things that need to be handled," said Cora Jones, a 18 year veteran.

School officials say they never meant for drivers to get short changed and they'll do what's necessary to fix this issue. "Obviously if we're listening to their concerns everything can't stay the same, so clearly there are some adjustments that have to be made," said Dr. Sally Whatley.

The meetings made some drivers more confident this issue can be resolved.

"We got a good team, we got a good staff so they'll get everything worked out," said Burgess.

School officials will hold a second meeting with drivers Wednesday and say if drivers still have questions they can sit down with the district's finance director one on one.

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