WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County school bus drivers protested Wednesday morning, sending the message they are both overworked and underpaid.
As day turned to night, the workers delivered the same message directly to school board members.
"We're frustrated and tired," one driver said.
Another mentioned the kids they transport.
"Your kids are the first ones we see in the morning," he said.
The group's frustrations range from low wages to what they said is a hostile working environment and a dwindling number of drivers.
Long-time bus driver Rhonda Miller said COVID-19 protocols also continue to be a concern.
"We don't have a barrier between us and the students," she said. "There's no barrier and no regular sanitation of the buses."
The district later responded to the protests.
"Palm Beach County, like the rest of the nation, continues to experience difficulty in recruiting drivers, as they are in high demand in various sectors of the economy," the district said. "We will continue seeking additional solutions and we appreciate the patience and professionalism of our drivers during this process. "
Local Service Employees Union President Alfonso Mayfield said this is now a time for action.
"We need our staff to have everything that they need to be able to serve the kids of this district," he said.
The district added they've increased driver pay and added a $1,000 bonus for existing drivers. Mayfield said right now the district is short of about 200 drivers.