School Bus Drivers Keep Parents on Edge over Possible Strike - The Jewish Voice
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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

School Bus Drivers Keep Parents on Edge over Possible Strike

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As the possibility of a strike by New York City school bus drivers – originally threatened for this past Monday but averted at the last minute – continues to loom for local schoolchildren, concerned observers are urging both sides in the negotiations to work towards a speedy resolution, as well as to give parents ample notice in the event that a strike is actually authorized.

In the event of a strike by local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, the city would distribute MetroCards to all students, thus enabling them to get to school using public transportation. Parents of students who are too young to travel alone would also be given a MetroCard to allow them to travel with their child to school. Families of special needs children would be reimbursed by the city for private transportation.

The threat of a strike by school bus drivers has loomed because the city is seeking ways to reduce its transportation costs and as a result has put contracts with private bus companies up for bid. The union claims that this situation creates a lack of employee protection, as it fears that many drivers could suddenly lose their jobs when their contracts expire in June.

A strike by city school bus drivers would impact 152,000 students and their families, including 60,000 children who receive special education services. Given the tenuousness of the situation – as parents wait each day to learn whether a strike has been authorized to immediately go into effect – Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield has called on Local 1181 to give the public ample notice before going on strike, especially considering the important public service they are responsible for providing.

“Parents rely on yellow school bus service to safely transport their children to and from school every day. A bus strike would really make life difficult for hundreds of thousands of parents. Given everything New York’s families have gone through this year, including disruptions due to Hurricane Sandy, the last thing parents should have to worry about is how their child will get to school. The city and union must find a way to avert a strike and keep these buses on the roads. Anything less is completely unacceptable,” said Greenfield.

The major point of contention between the city and the drivers union is the fact that the request for bids does not require new companies selected to hire the same bus drivers currently working on those routes. In 2011, the state Court of Appeals ruled that such protection provisions are not allowed. Despite the differences in both sides’ negotiating stances, Councilman Greenfield believes a deal can be made expeditiously and is urging both sides to continue formal negotiations until an agreement is reached.

“The bus union must respect parents enough to give them ample notice before a strike. It would be a slap in the face to the hard-working parents of New York City to stop yellow bus service without giving parents the opportunity to make alternate arrangements. More importantly, both sides must continue working on behalf of the 152,000 students and their families to ensure that a strike does not come to pass,” Greenfield concluded.

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