PulseLine, December 4, 2012

Dear PulseLine:  I can truly state that I totally sympathize with the Westfield School Bus Drivers after reading the article in the Saturday issue.   What an atmosphere to have to work in on a daily basis.  I truly believe the problem trickles down from the School Committee on down.  I was totally shocked when the Chairman of the School Committee stated, ”My advice to the Lecrenski family is if they don’t like the terms of the contract, don’t bid on that contract.”  This was Mayor Knapik’s statement, being the Chairman, and I thought extremely unprofessional and a very poor choice of words.  I happen to personally know a couple of driver’s for Lecrenski and they tell me that the issue with the Transportation Department has been an ongoing problem which has built up over the years to the current boiling point. I am told that this discontent has nothing to do with the Bus Company but resulted from the fact that the drivers emphatically have  NO RIGHTS.   Even a criminal has his day in Court. They have seen too many dedicated fellow workers dismissed from their positions without any opportunity to sit down and explain their actions to the Transportation Coordinator.    These are good hard working people who like you and me, are just trying to make a living.   They are human beings and do have feelings and YES they will make mistakes.    Dismissal is a very traumatic event for anyone.  In asking what the requirements are to be a bus driver I am told that new drivers are required to have 60 hours of training as well as CPR certification.   You also need a Commercial Driver’s License, a Passenger endorsement and a School Bus endorsement.   Before you can even begin your numerous hours of training you must pass a drug test, submit your driving record, pass a Medical Exam, as well as submit to a CORI check.   Once licensed, a driver must complete 8 hours of In-Service training yearly to renew their bus certification. It seems to me this is a very expensive proposition for both the driver and the employer.  It is my feeling that everyone deserves a second chance.   I would think that if a driver made a mistake, major or minor, a short suspension would be more beneficial to all parties.   Something similar to what my son’s bus cards state.   So many infractions and you’re off the bus!    I would suggest that a non-bias panel be created to review any and all infractions.

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