Sunday, December 28, 2014

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The Call Blog: Day One of School Bus Strike

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As expected, this topic was very heated on our show tonight. Several parents of New York City students called in to describe their frustration at having to make the choice between taking their child to school or missing work. I hope there is a speedy resolution to this because it is hurting all the parties involved: the students, the City, the parents and the drivers. More of your thoughts posted below.

Day one of the school bus strike saw thousands of drivers and matrons hit the picket line, and tens of thousands of students and parents scramble to find new ways to get to school. Nearly 9,000 workers of Amalgamated Transit Local 1181 walked off the job today over a dispute over new contracts.

The bus employees are calling for labor protections that have historically been included in their company’s contracts with the City. It ensures the most senior drivers and chaperons stay on the buses no matter what company the City is employing. The City insists they can’t legally offer those protections, something which the union says just isn’t true.

At a news conference today, Mayor Bloomberg said while the strike is inconvenient for parents, many students were still able to make it to class. He added the strike is, “not going to last more than June because that’s the end of the school year.” What do you say?

If you are a parent of a child that was affected, what was today like for you? How did you get your child to school today? Can you keep up today’s commute till June? What do you make of the City’s handling of the strike so far?

Reply with your thoughts using the link above.

I know it's natural to blame the union, but here's a thought.

Yes, the kids will miss some school, but what about after school, when they graduate, when they need a job? Those kids grow up, and when they do, they should have the opportunity to have a decent job that treats them well. That's what the union is fighting for; that's what unions have always fought for.


It's an unfortunate situation because I clearly understand both positions. I wish there would have been a way where we all would have been better prepared to deal with this situation. What is it exactly that the union wants that Bloomberg isn't willing to provide? Hopefully an agreement will be reached sooner than later because we don't need New York having anymore divisions and discord.

Upper West Side

I say Go Union! This is another example of Bloomberg's corporatization of the New York City schools. He's trying to break the union. School bus driver's average salary is $38,000. Veteran drivers know the routes, know the students. Why shouldn't they have job security? Courts may rule, but it's basically a power struggle. The greatest power the drivers have is solidarity. And their stance is best for both the schools, the students and the union.

Park Slope

I have a special needs 10-year-old who attends a special education school on Roosevelt Island, so we are impacted by the strike. My son has been riding minibuses to school since he was 4 years old.

My greatest concern is what will happen if the drivers and matrons lose this fight to protect their seniority, current wage rate, and pensions as they follow the work from one bus company to another. Why would a bus driver or matron with 35 years experience choose to lose his or her seniority or work for half the pay?

What will happen if the city contracts out to cheaper bidders who pay less is that we will have less experienced drivers and matrons busing our special needs children. Many of the children are on the buses for well over an hour. My son's bus starts its route in the Bronx. The first child is picked up at 6:15 and is on the bus for more than 1 1/2 hours.

Some of these children have sensory issues, low frustration tolerance, and anger management issues, along with some physical disabilities. The good matrons know how to keep order on the bus and how to keep the children calm and happy. They need to get the children back and forth to school safely, but also in a mindset to learn.

There are traffic jams, bus breakdowns, and even accidents. My son has been in one bus accident on the Grand Central Parkway (when he was in pre-K) and in several bus breakdowns. Because the drivers and matrons in those situations were excellent, he was calm when he arrived at school and at home.

The average driver salary is $35,000 and higher salaries run about $50,000 for senior drivers, less than we pay our sanitation workers. Aren't our children more precious than our garbage?

If the drivers and matrons lose this, and the city gets cheaper ones, special needs children and their families lose the most.


I don't have kids that's is using the school bus but I stand for the strike. The mayor n the school chancellor are wrong they never back up nothing when it comes to school or the kids education. All both oh them care about is money. The parents should be mad at the mayor n the school school, not the people striking really. The mayor n the chancellor already ruined the way the kids were learning. The mayor should have stayed in business he knows nothing about childrens education.

An angry parent

Union is being unreasonable!

It is absurd to expect a new bus company who won a bid, to take on the burden of the prior venders contracts.

Also the unions commercial implying not hiring union drives would lead to a crash, is the worst kind of scare tactics,.

Staten Island

I believe the Mayor is a weezle. Such a person will not address the issue to correct......he would address not to use negative language to deflect his Insensitive behavior. Typical Michael Bloomberg.

Upper East Side

It's disgraceful to see how this bus strike issue seems to be a laughing matter for the mayor. How synical and sarcastic can this mayor by responding in his conference this afternoon in a uninterested way and shrugging his shoulders "well the strike won't last past June because school will end then", reflecting a total disregard for the complications this is causing "NOW" for the children of the city' in paticular those with special needs. Although as a billionaire he is used to always getting his way in his personal life, he needs to remember that as a "public servant" he has to learn to compromise with others, even the blue collar workers that he is used to pushing around!

For more than 30 years past mayors have negotiated and tried to resolve issues with the union yet all of a sudden this mayor wants parents to believe that he can't negotiate with these workers and/or their union so it seems that it's not that he "can't" but instead that he "won't".


It cost me $60 in cab fare today to take my 2 special needs children to from school. I sympathize with the bus drivers but I don't know how long this is going to be possible for me and other parents. The Mayor is being completely unreasonable and once again trying to balance his budget and cut costs in the wrong place. Our children continue to suffer the consequences of his actions and our Special Education Children are always the most adversly affected. He needs to swallow his pride and bend to this union or my children may not make it to school next week. they are Autistic and can not tolerate the commute on public transportation especially during rush hour in nyc.



My first question is why did the City pick this time of year to pick this fight? Why couldn't they have waited until the end of the school year? On another note, as someone who has been employed and beaten down by the private sector for many years, Local 1181's demands for job security seems inconceivable. In this era of "right to work" and "employment at-will," the average private sector employee has no guarantee or expectation of job security regardless of their seniority. Bloomberg is first and foremost a businessman, which is why he can make statements like "I hope this is not going to last a long time but it's not going to last past June." Statements like this seems to indicate that he's ready to stretch this out with no consideration for the extreme hardship it will cause the families who are dependent upon bus service. I don't think this is a fight the union can win. Let's face it, the segment of NYC society that makes use of school bus services hardly has the clout or the ear of the Bloomberg administration. But parents are going to do what they have to do for their children with or without the help of the City.


how hypocritical it is for a mayor who bought himself a third term to deny job security to school bus drivers?

The mayor and chancellor should know that many of the children receiving special education services attend school for 12 months. All of the 23,000 students in District 75 attend school year round. District 75 serves the most disabled children in the public school system.

I believe one of the questions that have to be ask is the timing of the mayor's decision to send these contract to bid now. If his concern was truly the cost as he said why not do this over the summer why while school was not in session.

Pure union busting is very transparent.


Why in the middle of the school Year?

Why not june through September. 152,000 families disrupted, work income lost which can affect the greater new york economy. Finally traffic will be a nightmare and feds will wonder why their receiving less tax revenue from NYC. Bloomberg and Walcott woke the families who gave him the benefit of the doubt. Parents will fight for their kids!!!

About $383 per student PER DAY!
And people are criticizing the Mayor and the City for trying to reduce costs?

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