Possible End to NYC School Bus Strike

CBS New York
February 15, 2013

The month-long strike by New York City school bus drivers will apparently come to an end Friday night.

Sources familiar with the negotiation told WCBS 880's Rich Lamb and CBS 2's Marcia Kramer that the union has decided to end the strike.

There was a lot of rancorous rivalry between the city and the union regarding a list of employees that the union wanted used to outline who would have jobs if new bus companies were to take over routes currently operated by union members.

Right now, there is no word on whether that has been resolved, but the buses should start rolling again, possibly by Wednesday after students return from winter break, CBS 2's Kramer reported.

The walkout began Jan. 16 , triggered by the city's plan to put bus contracts out to bid to lower costs.

The union said it wanted a job security clause in those contracts, which the city said it can't legally do.

Union officials from Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union said bus drivers will stay on strike until the city agrees to put the employee protection provision back into their contract.

ATU International President Larry Hanley issued the following statement Friday:

"Late last night, I received a letter signed by all of the  serious candidates for Mayor of New York City – City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio, Comptroller John Liu, former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, and former City Councilman Sal Albanese – all pledging support for the principles for which our members are currently fighting.

"It is significant to us that the next mayor of New York has already recognized the principles of fairness that are required to govern a city, and that those we employ to serve our children deserve a fair days pay for a fair days work. Equally important is that they understand the value of experienced drivers and matrons to the safety of our kids.

"They also have concluded that increased school transportation costs have absolutely nothing to do with the wages of our workforce. I’m encouraged at their wiliness to tackle the real cost issues of busing our children to and from school.

"We view this request to suspend the current strike as an earnest effort on behalf of the city, its children and its workers. I will be discussing options this afternoon and evening with the leaders and members of Local 1181."

The strike has idled more than half the city's school buses, forcing an estimated 113,200 students to find other ways to get to school.

The city spends nearly $7,000 a year for each student on a bus, far more than any other city.

ATU Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello also issued the following statement Friday:

"It gives us great confidence that the next mayor of this City will be far more sympathetic to the working conditions of the drivers, matrons and mechanics that make up Local 1181. I want to thank all the candidates who signed on to the letter of support that was delivered to ATU International President Larry Hanley last night.

"As Local 1181 further contemplates the direction this strike will take, a few things are decidedly clear: that Mayor Bloomberg has shown an alarming lack of leadership throughout this entire process, instead opting to divide our city. He has put the children, especially those who need the safety and experience that our membership provides the most, at risk."

Union leaders set up a conference call with members for Friday night.

At a rally in Bayside, Queens on Friday, it was clear it was clear that school bus drivers an matrons are growing weary.

"We are falling behind, everybody. We have people crying here. People keep on complaining because you can't survive at $150 a week," matron Bibi Mangal told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond. "My gas bill alone is $600 and we can't do it."

The drivers and matrons want job security as the city goes out to bid on new bus contracts, said driver Josephine Garino.

"We want to get back to the job and we want safety for the children," she said.

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