A bill protecting school bus driver seniority rights, wages and benefits in new route hires was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last week.
“The inclusion of these provisions is both anti-competitive as well as cost-inflating,” Cuomo wrote in the bill’s veto memo. In 2011, the New York state court of appeals ruled that the provision protections failed to improving competition or save money.
“This new bill again fails to address the cost of these provisions…there is nothing to prevent the manipulation of the stated cost of these provisions that will be directly attributable to the state budget,” the governor added.
Two years after the court decision, the protections were taken out of school bus driver contracts under Mayor Micheal Bloomberg, as part of city austerity measures, arguing that the cut would save about $200 million over five years. The decision though resulted in month-long bus driver strike in 2013.
The provision protections had been in place since the 1960s. Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to restore the provisions and has repeatedly tried to push for EPP to no avail. In 2016, Cuomo vetoed a similar bill on the same grounds.
Queens state Senator John Liu, a backer of the bill, called passing EPPs “critical” to restoring a bus city school bus system that is currently in crisis.
“We can’t leave public school children and their parents hanging in the balance,” Liu said.
In a letter to union members, Michael Cordiello, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, said that he and the union would keep pushing for the provisions to be protected.