CVUSD transportation workers demand apology from Trustee Jesus Gonzalez

About a dozen Coachella Valley Unified bus drivers and transportation employees made public comments at Thursday’s board meeting to defend their professionalism and call on Trustee Jesus Gonzalez to apologize for comments he made about bus drivers two weeks ago.

Also during the meeting, Beth Caskie, a labor relations representative for the California School Employees Association that represents the bus drivers, accused Gonzalez of union-busting and of making “scurrilous, defamatory comments” about the districts’ drivers. Union-busting is illegal.

On June 9, the Board of Trustees and Superintendent Luis Valentino acknowledged parents’ concerns that buses had been running late to pick up students, sometimes leaving kids outside in the sun for more than an hour and getting them to school after classes begin.

The problem is mostly due to a bus driver staff shortage that is affecting districts nationwide.

The district has 78 bus routes but only 65 drivers and “hiring has been difficult,” district spokesperson Lissette Santiago told The Desert Sun on June 16.

At the last board meeting, district leaders acknowledged the labor shortage as a cause for the problem, but Gonzalez blamed the union, as well. He said the union was supporting a culture of district bus drivers “calling in sick so that they can achieve their overtime, and, in the process of doing that, they leave our children.”

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