Roughly 8,000 school bus drivers and workers are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill guaranteeing their wages and ensuring they get hired first as the most experienced workers on bus routes. The bill passed both houses of the New York state legislature earlier this year.
"We want the governor to sign this bill into law so that once again those school bus workers of New York City can be protected and can provide the safest mode of transportation for the students of New York City," Michael Cordiello, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1181, said at a rally outside the governor's office in Manhattan on Monday.
When the city hires school buses, it often does so through a third-party contractor. If that company folds or shuts its doors, drivers are often left out in the cold and easily replaced. The legislation on Cuomo's desk would guarantee that the more-experienced and senior workers get hired first.
"My son took the bus for a long time…and my daughter took the bus when she was younger," parent Sara Catalinoto said at the demonstration. "When the driver knows how to supervise children, and the matron has training, and they are not, like, broke and hungry, you get a better situation."
The bill is opposed by two other major unions representing school bus workers, including the Transport Workers Union, and the Teamsters, who want their workers to be included as well. They are currently left out of the legislation.
Two years ago, Cuomo vetoed a similar bill, claiming there was too much cost to the state. This time around, the city would absorb any fiscal impact.
"The city has agreed. I believe in the bill, that if there is any cost — because, remember, it preserves wages, it doesn't increase them," Cordiello said. "So if there is any impact, the city is prepared to take that cost and make it whole."
We reached to the Cuomo administration about this particular bill, and they told us, basically, what they have been saying for the last several months: more than 900 pieces of legislation passed this year, an unusually high number, and that this and many other bills are currently under review. The administration says the counsel's office is going through all the bills.
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