Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Third Day A Cold One For Striking School Bus Workers

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TWC News: Third Day A Cold One For Striking School Bus Workers
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School bus drivers and chaperones are bundled up on the picket lines for day three of their strike.

There are no talks planned to work out a deal to get members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 back to work.

Depending on how long they walk the picket lines, the stalemate could also force some union members to lose out on more than just pay.

Union leaders say if the strike runs past January 31, workers will not have health coverage.

The union says it's not budging on the employee protection provisions while the city maintains it cannot legally enter negotiations with workers.


Those hitting the picket line outside the Consolidated Bus depot in the Bronx Friday morning said no matter how cold it gets or how much longer it takes, they are not giving up.

"He's punishing everybody, Bloomberg is destroying our city. He has his billions of dollars, OK? And we are the middle class and poor because we live from check to check," said Ivonne Rivera, a school bus driver.

"We don't hear anything from our representatives so that's the reason we're here at this time," said Maurice Konte, a school bus driver.

Later Friday, protesters from Local 1199 took their protests to the Department of Education building in Lower Manhattan in the hopes of making the protest more visible.

Bus drivers from all five boroughs said their main issue is job security. They want the city to pressure bus companies to preserve their employee protection provision.

"We're not on strike for a raise. We're not on strike for another benefit. We're on strike because the mayor removed the EPP," said one striking worker.

The city appears to be standing firm. The mayor said the cost of busing children is now $1.1 billion a year, and he has to find the savings somewhere.

The Department of Education said that 88.7 percent of all students made it to class Friday, despite the fact that approximately 2,470 of approximately 7,700 total bus routes were running.

Only 62.5 percent of special needs students made it to school, according to the Department of Education. The DOE said approximately 30 percent of bus routes for special education students were running.

If you have a disabled child, Access-A-Ride may be able to help get them to school during the strike.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it will accommodate special needs students, but only on a case by case basis.

To find out if you qualify, call Access-A-Ride at 877-337-2017.

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