School bus strike largely avoided after agreement is reached with most companies: ATU Local 1181

A driver wearing a protective mask drives a school bus during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Brooklyn borough of New York City
Tomás Fret, president and business agent for ATU Local 1181-1061, told amNewYork Metro on Thursday, Sept. 21 that agreements have been reached for a five-year contract with a majority of the school bus companies.
REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

An agreement on a five-year contract was reached between five bus companies and the Amalgamated Transit Union, according to ATU Local 1181-1061 president and business agent Tomás Fret.

The agreement, Fret told amNewYork Metro, will mean that a school bus strike is largely avoided. The ATU, however, is currently in the midst of negotiations with three remaining bus companies. 

“We have a tentative agreement with three major players and two smaller companies,” Fret said. “We’re just looking to wrap this up with these other companies sooner rather than later.”

Fret said that the agreement was reached Wednesday with the five bus companies.

The union will be meeting with the three remaining companies in coming days. It will be meeting NYCS Bus Umbrella Services next and has negotiation dates planned as early as next week with one of the two other companies.

The contract with the five companies includes a shorter time period before employees reach top pay than at present, paid holidays, restoration of longevity pay, attendance bonuses that are equivalent to sick day pay, and reduced medical copays. 

“Prior to 2013, it was only six years to reach top pay,” Fret said. “After 2013, we had to negotiate with companies. We had to settle for a 12-year tier to top pay.”

Following the latest agreement, it is likely to be fewer than 12 years, although the exact number was not known at press time.

Fret said employees will only need to “just pay one copay,” which is similar to contracts prior to 2013. 

“If you went in for bloodwork, they’ll charge you $25 and for every other exam, they charge you another $25, and another $25,” Fret said. “Now we were able to do away with a few copays.”

Fret said he is thankful for the support of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, several city council members, state senators, parents, and ATU International President John Costa.