Update on School Bus Strike

© Todd Klassy

After the Mayor's press conference last Friday and Chancellor Walcott's letter home warning of "an immediate system-wide, and in our view, illegal, strike by our bus drivers' union—local 1181—that could impact yellow bus service for more than 152,000 students citywide", parents are left wondering what will happen with school bus transportation.

Leonie Haimson over at NYC Public School Parents blog has an excellent article giving us some background as to how this situation came to be.

Key points:

-       at issue is inclusion of employment protection provisions (EPP) in contracts for school bus drivers

-       the Doe always maintained that contracts had to have the EPP provision which required the winning bidder to keep the drivers from the incumbent according to seniority.  The rationale was that without EPP the union would strike

-       In July, however, the city made an about-face, asking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to veto a bill it had helped develop that would have extended the protections to bus contracts for preschool students who receive special education services

-       Mr. Cuomo did just that in September, citing a decision by the State Court of Appeals that including such protections drives up cost and drives away competition

-       The protections are part of the contracts, which expire in December 2012, that govern the transportation of about 138,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.  The new request for proposals that went out on Friday, after the Mayor's press conference, do not include the provision.

According to the New York Times, “Most of the students who would be affected by the strike live in Brooklyn and Queens, some of them outside the city’s public transportation grid. About 102,000 of them are in elementary school; of those, approximately 30,000 have special needs, and some of them require specific travel accommodations, limited travel time and door-to-door service.”

Parents to Improve School Transportation support an EPP in school bus contracts. In their statement, "An Employee Protection Provision is something parents support because we want trained, experienced and decently paid workers handling the youngest children with disabilities.  This EPP has been in the K-12 contracts since 1979; it didn't cover pre-K only because pre-K wasn't universal at the time.  This summer, both houses in Albany passed a bill to extend EPP to pre-Kindergarten and Early Intervention busing, but Cuomo vetoed it at Bloomberg's request."

Here is a statement from the school bus union ATU Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello.

See complete article here.

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