Union Appeals Firing of Bus Driver Who Flipped Off Bush
November 5, 2006
George Bush was campaigning in the Seattle area with Republican Congressman Dave Reichert on June 16. On the way to a fundraiser at a mansion, the Presidential motorcade passed some school buses that had pulled over, the King County Journal reported.
“She paid the ultimate price, and we think that’s pretty tough,” says the local AFSCME leader, who couldn't believe that Bush and Representative Reichert made an issue of it. "I would hope that the both of them would have more important things to discuss."
“Students in several Issaquah School District buses crammed their faces against the windows and waved to the President’s motorcade,” the paper said on October 30, relaying a recent story Reichert told on the campaign trail. “Bush waved back.”
But then one of the bus drivers gave Bush the finger.
Bush saw the gesture, he told Reichert about it, Reichert contacted the school, and the bus driver was canned.
“He reported the incident believing—rightly—that I would want to know this occurred,” said Superintendent Janet Barry in a press release dated November 1. “He never discussed his view or suggested what action he thought would be appropriate to take.”
Barry said the firing of the bus driver, whose name the school district would not disclose, had nothing to do with the driver’s political beliefs.
“If the bus driver had made the gesture to a driver who cut her off on a local road, we would have taken the same action,” Barry said. “This incident has to do with the responsibility of an employee who is supervising students to act professionally and serve as a role model.”
The bus driver’s union, the Washington State Council of County and City Employees, is appealing the termination.
“I’m just amazed at the school district,” Chris Dugovich, president of AFSCME Council 2, tells The Progressive magazine. “It’s very difficult for us to imagine that the severity of the punishment would have been the same if the Congressman had not been involved. She paid the ultimate price, and we think that’s pretty tough.”
Dugovich is also incredulous that the President of the United States and a Congressman would rat out a bus driver who flipped them off.
“I would hope that the both of them would have more important things to discuss,” says Dugovich. “I find the whole set of circumstances pretty incredible, and I’ve been doing this work for 25 years.”
Dugovich says the union is proceeding through the grievance procedure.
“Ultimately, a third party neutral will decide,” he says, “and I got to believe we’ve got a good shot.”