ANNAPOLIS, Md.(WJZ) —  The Annapolis school bus drivers who went on strike earlier this week are preparing to unionize. They notified their employer Thursday morning. 

The Annapolis Bus Company drivers are now getting help from UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO.

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“They’re taking it as if we’re taking it for a joke,” bus driver Lisa Beauchamp said. “We’re not taking it for a joke.”

They walked to their employer’s office Thursday to deliver paperwork that details their intention to form a union. 

The staff at the door went inside as the bus drivers approached. Beauchamp then stuck the paperwork in the mail slot.

“We have to take some responsibility for this as well,” UFCW MCGEO Local 1994 Special Assistant to the President Raymun Lee said.  “How does this happen on our watch? How do we allow workers to be mistreated and not paid a living wage when we have labor leaders scattered across the state?”

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The president of the Anne Arundel County Teachers Union, Russell Leone, was there, too.

“We are a school community and our bus drivers are a part of that community and so we want to make sure that we can stand up for our own and our bus drivers are part of us,” Leone said.

The drivers will vote on whether they will unionize on Oct. 20.

While all of this was going on, County Executive Steuart Pittman held a virtual roundtable discussion with bus drivers to hear their concerns.

Anne Arundel County Schools’ superintendent is asking the school board to approve $7.4 million to increase the drivers’ pay and offer bonuses for new and current drivers.

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WJZ asked the company that owns Annapolis Bus Company, Student Transportation of America, for a comment about their workers preparing to unionize. We are waiting for their response.

Jessica Albert