PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, Providence Mayor Brett Smiley, Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Providence Public School District Superintendent Javier Montañez, School Board President Erlin Rogel today issued the following joint statement on the ongoing contract negotiations between Teamsters Local 251 and First Student.
“As leaders from both the State and City, we are coming together to strongly urge First Student and the Teamsters Union to take every measure to avoid a strike and reach a prompt contract resolution that is fair for all. We cannot stress this enough: A strike would be extremely detrimental to families, students, educators, and the entire Providence community.
“A strike will negatively impact our efforts to improve student attendance and help students recover from the pandemic’s impact on their education, all at a crucial time as schools are preparing students for RICAS assessments in the coming weeks. We also know that for the approximate 8,500 student riders who will be hurt by a strike, there are numerous families who will also face disruptions at home and at work and will have to make difficult decisions. Additionally, this will impact students’ ability to access nutritious meals with approximately 90% of Providence students qualifying for free and reduced meals and nearly 17,000 students taking advantage of school breakfasts and lunches. This is not acceptable, and it is avoidable.
“We ask all parties to return to the table and consider the needs of Providence students and their families.”
Although the State, the City, the District, and the School Board have no direct involvement in the negotiations between the Teamsters and First Student, District and State leaders, including Governor McKee, have been in conversations urging them to come to an agreement in the best interests of students and families.
Upon learning of the possibility of a strike, the District began exploring alternative options to prevent students’ learning from being disrupted and will be issuing further guidance. The District has been updating families on the status of negations throughout the weekend and will continue to communicate as updates become available.