Three years after the bus drivers and other transportation workers at Regional School Unit 16 voted to join a Teamsters local, they opted to cut ties to it.

The workers involved voted 19-3 by mail to decertify their union last Friday, which leaves the 25 employees without representation as school officials figure out their pay and benefits.

“I will be working with members of the transportation department to come up with a work agreement that will bring them into the future,” Superintendent Kenneth Healey told the school board this week.

The bus drivers have been seeking a better deal since 2017, when they rejected a 3% pay increase accompanied by an increase in what they had to pay toward their health insurance.

A report from the Maine Labor Relations Board cites the vote by RSU 16 bus drivers on whether to retain their affiliation with the Teamsters Local 340.

After that failed effort to reach a deal, bus drivers, bus monitors and van drivers voted 19-6 to have the Teamsters Local 340 represent them in talks with the district, which spans Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls.

But it appears the union and the district never came close to reaching an agreement.

Healey told the Sun Journal last year that the school board sought to provide at least a 4% raise for the highest-paid drivers while paying all of them the same, regardless of seniority.

He said that paying all drivers the same would help attract people to the job during a statewide shortage of applicants.

Healey said the Teamsters were asking for more than $4 an hour extra, well beyond the 70 cents an hour the district offered.

It isn’t clear why the drivers decided this fall to give up on the union.

The 26 employees – 18 bus drivers, four van drivers and four monitors – asked the Maine Labor Relations Board on Sept. 10, to oversee a decertification election. Their application did not mention any reason for the move.

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