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'It's Time For A Change': School Bus Drivers In Anne Arundel County Vote To Unionize

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- The school bus driver shortage is reaching a breaking point. In Howard County, dozens of drivers called out sick this morning, while others in Anne Arundel County voted to unionize.

"It's time for a change," said Mamie Tucker Irvin, Bus Driver, Anne Arundel County.

Victorious in their vore to unionize.

"We think that it's a victory. We know that it will take some time but at least we've started something," said Irvin.

Bus drivers in Anne Arundel County voted 49 to 29 to form a union despite the county's efforts to appease them. Last week, County Executive Steuart Pittman announced cash incentives, $5,000 for both new and current drivers. But current drivers say it's not enough.

"Where's the retirement fund? Where's the raise you said we was gonna receive?" said Lisa Beauchamp.

"Bus drivers have been overlooked too long. Now, we want to be seen and heard and we want to be compensated for the job that we do," Irvin added.

It's a similar feeling in Howard County. Monday, drivers staged a sick out refusing to work until they see change.

"We had to take a stand and fight for what we feel like we need and what we deserve," said Sharon Decker, Bowen Bus Service Driver.

They said drivers don't receive any benefits and haven't seen a raise in over 10 years.

"There's nothing appealing to drive a school bus anymore," said Diann Withers.

But the strike didn't last long, drivers were back out on the road by the closing bell.

Howard County is offering drivers a $5,000 bonus with plans to discuss benefits before the end of the year.

"We're going to continue working with our board of ed and our school system to address the issues," said Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive.

"You didn't build Rome in a day. You've got to take baby steps here. At least they're acknowledging us. That was the big thing," Withers added.

In Anne Arundel County, a union representative says today's vote to unionize was just the first leg of a long race. They hope the Annapolis Bus Company will be willing to bargain with their union moving forward.

In Howard County, bonuses will be given in two payments. The first is expected in 10 days.

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