Tens of thousands of students and parents will have to scramble to find a way to school Wednesday morning, the first day of a school bus driver strike. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Wednesday morning, the union representing most city school bus drivers will park the buses and man the picket lines.
"It's going to be chaotic," school's Chancellor Dennis Walcott said. "I think the first several days there's going to be a lot of drama and trauma to our parents."
The drivers and chaperons say they'll strike until the city puts existing job protections into future bus contracts, guaranteeing that senior drivers get to stay behind the wheel.
“We’ve tried every option to avoid a strike, but our members feel that their back is to a wall and they must take a stand on this issue," Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello said.
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Walcott maintain the courts have said those job protections are illegal. They say the city is spending too much for busing and needs a new deal.
"New York City spends $6,900 per student. Los Angles, the next biggest school district, pays roughly $3,100 per student."
Both sides agree the strike is bad for the 150,000 students who rely on yellow buses, a third of whom have special needs. But in the hours leading up to the strike, nobody was negotiating.
The bus companies say it's between the union and the city. But the city says it's up to the operators.
“We are not employing these bus drivers. They’re employed by private companies and what you should do is address any questions about what they’re negotiating back and forth to the companies and the unions that they have to deal with. Not the city,” Bloomberg said.
However, the union says only the mayor has the power to stop the strike.
Meanwhile, the city is giving out MetroCards and bus companies say they're trying to bring in replacement drivers, but finding, training and certifying will take weeks.
The bus companies also say they'll file two unfair labor complaints Wednesday morning with the National Labor Relations Board, hoping to force an end to the strike.
Otherwise, it may be difficult to get the buses running again.