Negotiations to avoid a strike by school bus drivers in Beaufort County will likely continue into this week.
Durham School Services, which has a contract with the Beaufort County School District to drive its buses, and members of the Teamsters Local 509, which represents drivers in Beaufort, Charleston and Dorchester counties, met in Charleston Saturday to discuss a pay and benefits increase, according to Beaufort County district spokesman Jim Foster. They plan to meet again sometime next week to continue negotiations, he said. He did not know an exact date. The district is not part of the negotiations, Foster said.
Attempts Saturday to contact spokesmen for Teamsters Local 509 and Durham School Services were unsuccessful.
Drivers in Charleston and Dorchester school districts have already voted to authorize the strike, but Beaufort Teamster members -- which compose about half of the district's 200 drivers -- have not yet voted, Foster said Saturday. He said he did not know if there was a deadline to take that vote.
If Beaufort drivers also vote to authorize the strike, it could give the union the power to make it happen, Foster said.
"What we understand at this point is they'll continue to talk," Foster said Saturday evening.
The S.C. Board of Education on Wednesday agreed to help the three school districts that contract with Durham deal with a possible strike. Durham will be allowed to bring in out-of-state drivers who don't have state-required certifications.