Durham officials refute claim they walked out of negotiations

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Representatives of Durham School Services walked out of negotiations Tuesday morning, according to a source with information on the talks.

The source did not have information on why the Durham representatives walked out of the talks, however.

Durham officials, however, refuted the claims that their representatives left the talks.

"Durham School Services did not walk out on meetings this morning with the union. We remain committed to reaching an agreement that is beneficial to all parties," said the company's spokeswoman, Carina Noble.

She went on the say that in negotiations Monday, the company increased its offer. The two sides were still unable to come to an agreement, though.

"While the union rejected our offer of mediation made earlier in negotiations, we stand ready to continue discussions, whether through continued negotiations or mediation, should they decide to adjust their demands," Noble said.

Charleston County School District officials said they were aware the talks had deteriorated, but did not have a statement on the issue. District officials said all buses were running on their normal schedule.

According to CCSD spokesperson Jason Sakran, negotiations will continue Tuesday night and buses will be running as scheduled on Wednesday. Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley met with representatives from both the union and Durham School Services.

"I have been assured that both sides want to sincerely come to an agreement and will exhaust every avenue to avert a work stoppage, including a consideration for mediation," said Dr. McGinley.

Dorchester District 2 officials said they were not aware of any changes as a result of the deteriorating negotiations.

At the bus depot, drivers showed up and started their routes as scheduled, many saying they were doing it for the children on their routes.

The two sides have been trying to hash out their differences in contract negotiations since July, but the tensions have come to a head in recent weeks with rumors of drivers across three Lowcountry school districts threatening to strike.

The union has promised not to strike with talks still in the works.

Neither side has issued a formal statement on the breakdown in the day's negotiations.