Is a compromise between Durham, school bus drivers any closer?

By Eric

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- School buses are still running, but when will we know if a strike is going to come?

Negotiations between Durham and Teamsters Local 509 will continue Thursday and bus service is expected to run on schedule. But what can be learned from three weeks of negotiations, since a strike was first authorized by drivers?

From parents to administrators, even bus drivers,{}everyone seems to{}want answers.

"Nobody wants to do it, but somebody's got to concede," said Charleston attorney Britt Travis.

Travis owns a mediation company called Dispute Resolutions. He said in any negotiation, especially this one with Durham and the bus drivers' union, there's only one way to reach an agreement.

"Both sides, to be a successful mediation, both sides are going to have to compromise more than they want," he said.

Last week, Durham chairman John Elliott said the{}two sides have{}been working on a contract since July, but the more time that goes by, he hinted, the harder it gets.

"The longer it goes, the more difficult it is for everyone, the school district and the parents," said Elliott.

"When somebody says the longer it goes the bigger chance 'X' is going to happen, it's (likely because) they're wasting money, they're spending a lot of money," Travis said.

Travis said Durham may be racking up lawyer fees, money that could be spent on higher wages for drivers.

Durham also called the Teamster's demands unreasonable at a press conference last Wednesday. Travis said it may be a sign, they're resisting a compromise.

But all faith should not be lost even if talks temporarily break down.

"There's a lot of emotion involved. There are peoples' jobs on the line with it; it's going to be highly stressed," said Travis. "Somebody walking out of a mediation isn't the end of the world. You may have another person with authority to settle this case still in there talking."

Charleston, Dorchester District 2 and Beaufort school districts all expect buses to run normal Thursday morning.

Charleston County bus drivers first voted to authorize a strike on Jan. 15.