New York City school bus drivers move forward with strike plans
With school bus strike set to begin Wednesday morning, the union that represents the city's 8,000 school bus workers said the mayor's refusal to guarantee job security forced their hand.
Michael Cordiello, the president of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said his members will be hitting the picket lines this morning because Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Denis Walcott have failed to hear their concerns about bids for new bus contracts.
The drivers want the city's Department of Education to include employee protection provision, or EPP, in the 1,000 bids so that experienced drivers can keep their jobs.
The mayor and Walcott reiterated that they wouldn't put EPP in the bids, which cover a sixth of all of the city's school bus contracts, because a court ruling deemed it illegal.
"Our back is to the wall and we have no other choice. Our members feel that they have to take a stand against this issue," Cordiello said.
Under EPP , companies that win the bid from the city would have to hire the workers from the companies that lost the bid based on experience and pay them the same rate.
Bloomberg said they need to look for new contracts to cut down on the $1.1 billion annual cost for school buses.
"It's a moot point," he said Tuesdayof the EPP. "We are not negotiating with the unions, we are negotiating with the private companies."
Cordiello said the court ruling only affected pre-K drivers and not all of his members and the union wouldn't hhave gone on strike if the mayor didn't emphasize the court ruling.
A spokeswoman for the union said drivers would be picketing at bus depots and won't be demonstrating at schools.