After threatening to strike, New York City school bus drivers were back to work Monday, but they could still walk off the job within the next few days.
A strike would affect 152,000 students, including 54,000 with disabilities, and those in public, private and parochial schools.
“The union is asking for something we cannot legally deliver and are putting a central and necessary service at risk,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “A strike would be irresponsible and would adversely impact our students and their families who rely on bus service to get to and from school.”
In an effort to cut costs, the city wants to put contracts out to bid for 1,100 routes for the first time in 33 years.
New York City spends $1.1 billion, or $6,900 per student, on busing each year. That figure is more than any other school district in the country and almost double what the country’s second largest school district, Los Angeles, spends.
Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 9,000 drivers, is objecting to the lack of job guarantees in the contract bid specifications and safety issues that could arise if current drivers are replaced with less experienced ones.
“I’ve been working 35 years driving kids to school in the Bronx, and now you’re going to tell me, ‘You don’t have a job no more’?” 67-year-old union member Rick Meli told the Wall Street Journal. “How do you tell this many people they could lose their jobs?”
If a strike does happen, the city will robocall affected families.
Additionally, students and parents with children in pre-school to 2nd grade or with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and require transportation from their home directly to their school will receive free MetroCards. Parents who receive yellow bus service from their homes or are in grades K through 6 and do not live in areas where public transportation between home and school is available, can request reimbursement for transportation costs.
“As the city continues to take all possible precautions in advance of a potential strike, we are asking parents to make a plan in the event that busing is disrupted,” said Walcott.
- Two Queens Catholic schools to merge next year
- DOE reviews safety for its students
- Two Queens schools awarded Blue Ribbon