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Monday, January 21, 2013

NLRB Action Could Send School Bus Drivers Back to Work Tuesday

NLRB COULD SEND DRIVERS AND MATRONS BACK ON TUESDAY
BLOOMBERG NOT FORTHRIGHT ON ROUTES AND THEIR COSTS
PARENT OF SPECIAL ED STUDENT DEFENDS BUS DRIVERS, GIVES HIRING DETAILS
The three private school bus companies affected by the strike could get a National Labor Relations Board decision on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

New York City news outlets are reporting that the companies have convinced the NLRB to meet on the strike. The companies claim that the drivers and matrons strike is illegal. It is expected that the Board will make a decision on Tuesday.

The NLRB meeting could happen early Tuesday, as media outlets are claiming that striking bus drivers and matrons could be ordered to return to work, as early as Tuesday.

As earlier reported, job guarantees are at the core of the dispute:
In an effort to cut costs, the city wants to put contracts out to bid for 1,100 routes for the first time in 33 years. The union is objecting to the lack of job guarantees in the contract bid specifications and safety issues that could arise if current drivers are replaced with less experienced ones.

As Juan Gonzalez reported in the New York Daily News, the bus routes themselves are expensive, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has not been forthcoming about the full story as to why the routes are expensive, according to bu union president Mike Cordiello.
Even more amazing is the mayor’s silence at the causes of skyrocketing bus costs that have nothing to do with the workers.

The biggest is special education. While only about a third of the 150,000 students bused daily are in special education, their transportation represents three-quarters of the total cost of the program — more than $770 million. That's an average of $12,000 annually per child, according the city's Independent Budget Office.

Many of those children ride long distances to private schools outside the city.

Bus union president Mike Cordiello says many routes are so ineptly configured by Tweed bureaucrats that his members run 186 routes daily to Westchester County, most of them with 6 children or less per bus. There are 25 buses per day to New Jersey, 16 to Rockland County, several to Connecticut.
Read more at the full January 17 Daily News story.

The city’s last school bus strike, in 1979, lasted 14 weeks.
Infoshop news yesterday reprinted a Year 0 report that the bus drivers won the disputed EPP protections were won in that strike.

Writing in Socialist Alternative a parent executive board member of a PTA wrote:
Striking drivers and matrons are outraged at the way their strike has been portrayed by Billionaire Bloomberg and the corporate media. Tony Livia, a shop steward in ATU local 1181 and a driver for 15 years says that the mayor lies continually in the media and portrays the union members as people with a job for life. Actually 200 to 300 ATU members get laid off each year for an average of 4 months, Livia says, because the city typically cuts bus routes in its yearly downsizing. The school bus drivers are usually rehired when parents call up and complain about the loss of service for their children. Now, Bloomberg's plan is to eliminate the seniority and let the workers be hired back on a company by company basis, not on a union seniority basis. In this way the company who bids the lowest and pays the lowest will be able to call back the workers with less seniority, less experience, and lower wages first. If the city gets its way, nearly 3,000 jobs from three companies alone will be lost in August when the contract expires. This race to the bottom will devastate the union and force workers with years of experience to compete with the lower wages of new hires.

Bloomberg called a press conference even before the strike was announced, and his speech was a hypocritical pile of rhetoric about "putting our children first." In reality the Bloomberg administration has implemented a slash and burn budget which puts bankers first while cutting millions of dollars from after-school programs which affect many of the same children that Billionaire Mike pretends to care for. As a parent of a special needs student in the public school system, I have seen first-hand the level of skill that is required to safely drive a bus full of rambunctious and sometimes tearful children to school each day. Special needs children in particular, need to develop a bond with the bus driver and the matron, in order to establish trust and feel secure. When "Think of the Children" Bloomberg was asked if it was right to take these experienced drivers away from the children and break those familiar ties, especially in the wake of anxiety after the Newtown shootings, he famously said "They'll get over it.”

The national debate about child safety seems to go flat when corporate politicians want to make profits. The mayor is already making preparations to hire scabs and this raises the question. Will rigorous background checks and driver training take place in the rush to break the strike and get an even lower wage work force? Let's not be naive. In the words of one striking worker "Education is big business to those guys.” You have to remember that Bloomberg is the mayor who wanted the marathon to go ahead because it was "good for business" while people were dying in the streets of Staten Island and the Rockaways during Hurricane Sandy.


LAURA CLAWSON AT DAILY KOS WEIGHED IN ON THE SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS AND MATRONS STRIKE:
Click to "Teachers aren't the only ones giving low marks to Michael Bloomberg's war on public schools," January 20, 2013

SAMANTHA WINSLOW AT LABOR NOTES WEIGHED IN TOO:
"New York School Bus Strikers Say Low Wages, Turnover Will Hurt Special-Needs Kids", January 16, 2013

Year 0 gave picket line support locations:
NEW YORK YEAR ZERO 17 January 2013

Here’s an updated list of picket locations, to be staffed 24/7 (peak support times are 6am-4pm): **New Location** Join the members of ATU 1181 in picketing the Department of Education, located at 52 Chambers St. in Manhattan anytime between 8:30am and 5:30pm Tuesday, January 22nd to Friday, January 25th as they demand the Mayor put our children’s safety first.

MANHATTAN Department of Education 52 Chambers Street Manhattan, NY 8:30am and 5:30pm 1/22/13-1/25/13

QUEENS
Atlantic Express Co. – Ridgewood, 46-81 Metropolitan Avenue, Ridgewood, NY 11385: Subway – L (Jefferson St & Wyckoff Ave)
Atlantic Express Co. – Jamaica, 107-10 180th Street, Jamaica, NY 11433: Bus – Q42 (177th St & 106th Ave)

BROOKLYN
Boro Transit, 50 Snediker Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11207: Subway – L (Atlantic Ave)
Reliant Transportation – Greenpoint, 297 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222: Bus – B48 (Hausman St & Norman Ave)

BRONX
Lonero Transit, 2350 Hermany Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462: Subway – 6 (Castle Hill Ave) (Office entrance on Hermany Ave., bus yard around corner on Zerega Ave.)

STATEN ISLAND
Pioneer Transportation – Staten Island, 2890 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, NY 10309: Bus – S84/S74 (Arthur Kill Rd)

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