Worries about a bus drivers' strike continue as negotiations drag on between the Teamsters union and the company that provides bus services for the Beaufort County School District.
The two sides met again Thursday in Charleston and will return to the bargaining table Monday, according to a union spokeswoman.
Durham School Services and Teamsters Local 509, based in Columbia, have been negotiating since July over pay and benefits for about 100 of the district's union drivers and monitors, along with other union workers in the Lowcountry. They've worked without a contract since.
"In the past week and a half since our members took strike votes, we have made progress at the bargaining table," the Teamsters said in a statement Thursday.
Durham broke its silence over the ongoing talks Tuesday, releasing details of the company's counterproposal, which led to a rebuke by the union. Durham has offered an average hourly raise of 45 cents, bringing average pay to $15.01 an hour.
Beaufort County union members voted Monday to strike should negotiations fail. Neither Durham nor the Teamsters has set a deadline for a deal.
Durham brought in temporary drivers from out of state this week and began running advertisements Wednesday to recruit new, local drivers should there be a strike.
"We are aware of the situation and have been in touch with Durham daily and met with them early this week about negotiations," Beaufort County School District interim superintendent Jackie Rosswurm said Thursday. "... I'm told the two sides are close to some settlement, and hopefully, that moves forward and we can continue to bus students to and from school as normal."
Beaufort County public schools will remain open even if drivers strike, district officials have said.
- School bus company offers counterproposal: Jan. 29, 2013
- Beaufort County School District updates on possible bus strikes