local 1181

New York

School bus drivers say they will strike starting on Wednesday

The city school bus drivers union announced today that its members would strike starting Wednesday over the city's plan for new contracts with bus companies. After more than a year of strike threats, city school bus drivers will walk off the job on Wednesday, their union announced today. The work stoppage means that more than 150,000 students — including many with severe disabilities — will have to find their own way to school. All students affected by the strike who can get to school using public transportation will receive Metrocards, and the city will reimburse families who must drive or hire cars for the commute to and from school. Still, city officials say they expect that the burden of providing transportation will lead at least some families to keep their children home. The strike also means that the city's streets will be clear of yellow buses for the first time since 1979, when the city ended a three-month strike by extending new protections for drivers. The strike comes as the city prepares to seek contracts with bus companies in an effort to cut student transportation costs, which are the highest in the country. The drivers’ union, Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 1181, wants a guarantee that current employees won’t lose their jobs even if the companies they work for do not win a new contract. But the city, citing a 2011 legal ruling, says it cannot make such a promise. "Have you ever heard of a strike where one side is demanding something that the courts have ruled illegal?" Mayor Bloomberg said today during a press conference just before the union officially declared the strike. "It is just meshugana, as we say in Gaelic."
New York

As dust settles after strike threat, questions about city's urgency

New York

Bus union confirms strike threat but says action is not imminent

School buses at Coney Island in 2008. The bus drivers union that Mayor Bloomberg warned earlier today could wage an imminent strike on the school bus system confirmed that a strike was "likely" but disputed that there were "immediate plans to do so." A labor dispute between the city and the union, the Amalgamated Transit Union's Local 1181, is over job protections for school bus drivers that would essentially guarantee employment for current employee regardless of which bus contractors win an upcoming contract for busing services. The city says it considers the strike illegal and is asking the National Labor Relations Board, which adjudicates conflict between employers and employees, to seek a court injunction to stop it. A strike would affect 152,000 of the city's 1.1 million students, including more than 50,000 students with special needs, according to the city. At a hastily assembled press conference today, Mayor Bloomberg said the union had not officially informed the city that it would strike but had signaled the intention strongly in conversations beginning Wednesday. The conversations took place because the city said it planned to announce that it would consider hiring new companies to provide pre-kindergarten busing. That announcement happened today. "They were very clear to our people that they would intentionally strike the system," Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said about Local 1181 at the press conference. In a statement, Amalgamated Transit Union's Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello confirmed the threats but said it would not happen right away and he criticized Bloomberg for painting a doomsday scenario.