PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — After months of negotiations and threats of a strike, the Providence bus drivers' union and bus company First Student have reached a new contract agreement.
Union leaders said it will make Providence drivers some of the highest-paid in the region.
"We're out on those roads every day and people from Rhode Island, you know what it's like, and with the kids and we're just glad. We're glad. Everybody's happy," driver Chuck Hanrahan said.
According to the union, by June of 2026, all current CDL drivers will make $37 per hour with a guarantee of 180 paid workdays per year.
For drivers working 30 hours per week, that's an annual salary of 39,960.
"It's considered a part time job but it's full time responsibilities," Teamsters Business Agent Antonio Suazo said. "They should be treated as such."
The new agreement will make Providence drivers some of their highest-paid.
"Bus drivers have careers in the industry," Matthew Taibi with Teamsters Local 251 said. "They should take pride in transporting the kids every single day. They should be invested in those jobs, more than just disposable throwaway jobs and be able to support their families. They're taxpayers, they're parents, they're members of the community and they deserve the best."
First Student is the largest yellow bus company in Rhode Island, serving most of the state's school districts.
According to the union, the starting salary for new Providence drivers will also go up from $19.75 to $24 per hour.
First Student's current online job postings say Pawtucket drivers start out making $21 per hour, Lincoln starts at $22 per hour, and Portsmouth starts at $23 per hour.