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A school bus.
New York City school bus drivers are likely to go on strike on Wednesday, as negotiations between their union and city officials have failed to reach an agreement ensuring worker protections as the city puts some school busing contracts up for bid:
The dispute erupted last month when the Education Department announced that it would accept competitive bids for transporting 22,500 special-needs children, who require special services. The contracts would cover 1,100 bus routes, about a sixth of the city’s total.

Most galling for drivers and the union, the new contracts, among other things, would omit longstanding job security provisions requiring new companies to hire veteran bus drivers by order of seniority and at the same pay rate. The protections were put into effect in 1979 after a 13-week walkout. There have been no strikes since.

Officials, including Mr. Walcott and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, have argued that a 2011 ruling by the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, prohibited the city from including the protective provisions in new contracts. The union has said the ruling applied only to contracts for busing prekindergarten students.

City officials, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are using rhetoric familiar to those who followed the Chicago teachers' strike; school bus drivers are selfish and don't care about children, as evidenced by the fact that they're fighting for job protections. Bloomberg points to the fact that New York pays more per student for busing than does Los Angeles, but doesn't talk as much about the fact that gas prices, rent and homeownership, and other basic expenses are higher in New York than Los Angeles. New York's school busing costs may or may not be too high, but Bloomberg is hardly a reasonable source of information.

New York City after-school drama teacher Molly Knefel writes that the prospect of replacing longtime drivers for special needs students in particular matters:

... because how we treat those who care for certain children reflects how we value those children. It creates a system in which workers entrusted to be responsible for a child's safety are utterly replaceable in the name of protecting the bottom line. Bus drivers and matrons greet children in the morning and return them home in the afternoon and students with disabilities require specific knowledge, care and attention. Routine and stability are important to all children, but especially so to certain populations of special-needs children, including those with autism or emotional/behavioral disorders.
Knefel also points out that Bloomberg's policies closing many neighborhood schools and promoting a "choice" system in which students travel far from their homes to attend school has heightened the city's reliance on the bus drivers who are now under attack by the Bloomberg administration.

If the drivers do go on strike, the city has a plan to provide students with MetroCards for public transit access or to reimburse transportation costs for students who don't have access to public transit.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:37 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  i'm a former employee of 2 nyc bus companies (6+ / 0-)

    god blesses the right thing. i'm w/ you all in solidarity. i hope it doesn't come down to a strike, but if it does, stand strong. god will bless your efforts. xoxo

    i've been driving special needs students for years. we get attached to each other. i pray this is all resolved soon- separations can be traumatic.

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:05:56 PM PST

  •  If you live in NYC (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rolet, suesue, shaharazade, fisher1028

    Unless you main source of information is the New York Post, it is obvious that Bloomberg hates paying Union teachers and will do anything, tell any lie and cook any statistic to get rid of union teachers in the school.  

    But the news of his treatment of school unions will less of a voice dosen't often get out there. People who make school lunches, custodians, anyone with a union card in there pocket have been slapped around by Bloomberg.

    Now if this strike happens and Bloomberg's plans to leave the most vulnerable children in the care of private transit providers with unqualified drivers who don't have the training and experience that union drivers have, I hope the news of his treatment of other unions employed by the city sees the light of day.  

    •  Do not get me started (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eddie C

      My 18 year old graduated unscathed. My 10th grader, not so much.  I remember when my younger child was in Pre-K and I thought to myself, "It's only four years. How bad can it be?" Silly me.  This bullshit needs to implode.

  •  Re (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA
    City officials, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are using rhetoric familiar to those who followed the Chicago teachers' strike; school bus drivers are selfish and don't care about children, as evidenced by the fact that they're fighting for job protections. Bloomberg points to the fact that New York pays more per student for busing than does Los Angeles, but doesn't talk as much about the fact that gas prices, rent and homeownership, and other basic expenses are higher in New York than Los Angeles. New York's school busing costs may or may not be too high, but Bloomberg is hardly a reasonable source of information.
    "More" in this case is $6900/student/year compared to $3100/student/year that's the case in LA. More than double, every dollar of which comes directly out of instructional funding.

    Put it this way: unless I'm reading this wrong, on the difference between LA and New York's costs, you could hire another teacher every 30 or so students, or cut class sizes almost in half. I like bus drivers as much as the next guy, but is this situation the best service the taxpayers can get for their money?

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:46:58 PM PST

  •  Back in 2007 we got involved... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wood Dragon, Eddie C, shaharazade

    ...with school bus drivers in San Diego;

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    There the confrontation was between the union (Teamsters) and the private company that operated the buses.

    I did develop an appreciation for school bus drivers, they are taken for granted.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:09:35 PM PST

  •  Let's just remember last year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    midwesterner, Amber6541, Eddie C

    How many disabled children in NYC were in the news because of abusive contracted bus drivers? (Here's one example: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/...)

    Contracting services out of the city in order to 'produce competitive bids' is a strategy for business, not government.

    •  It is an ancillary service (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk

      It's the very definition of something public education should be open to outsourcing.  It's not education.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:31:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Education beigins with transportation. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, Wood Dragon, Eddie C

    The students have to be there in order to educate them. Support staff; bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, maintenance employees, etc. are just as important as teachers in a school. It takes teamwork and cooperation to create a conducive  learning environment in a school.

    •  That's silly, in my opinion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, suesue

      The public schools should run their own farms and reservoirs, by that standard.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:31:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Schools are communities within communities. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eddie C, shaharazade

        Everyone in a school works for a common goal. That goal is to provide a learning environment that allows each student to reach their full potential.
        BTW, I teach in Texas. If Rick Perry and his ilk thought schools could make or save money running their own farms and reservoirs, he would make it mandatory. LOL!

        •  School doesn't start when you get on the bus. (0+ / 0-)

          It starts when you get to school. Anything before or after that isn't subject to what makes an optimal learning environment.

          You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

          by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:00:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tell that to all the kids who are bullied (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            suesue

            on the school bus.  Hey, you were called fag?  They called you dyke?  Just forget it, kiddo, it only happened on the school bus.  It shouldn't bother you at all once you get to school.

          •  Except if your child has special needs in NYC. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fisher1028, suesue

            My son has utilized the short bus for 3 school years now.  His first year, we were offered a spot an hour and many neighborhoods away, and he spent nearly 2 hours in the bus each way (though we tried to take him and pick him up as much as we could).  

            You want to be able to trust the adults ferrying your child to and from school, especially if his time inside the bus is nearly 2/3 the time he spends in school as our experience was the first part of that year.  You want them at least to understand that your child isn't like other kids, and still respect them and protect them.

            We've had lovely drivers and matrons, and not-great ones.  I would hope that my son is protected and cared for when he's traveling to and from school.

  •  The Children Should Be The Main Priority (0+ / 0-)

    "If the drivers do go on strike, the city has a plan to provide students with MetroCards for public transit access or to reimburse transportation costs for students who don't have access to public transit."

    That was my main concern:  What will happen to the kids?  Having worked in the field of Mental Health 30 years ago and having known several very special children throughout my life, I am very happy that Mayor Bloomberg and the city have a plan for helping the children to have their special needs met.  It seems that every time there is some kind of school labor action, it ends up that the KIDS are the ones who get the shaft, and that is sad.  We adults are responsible for the well-being of the young, and somehow, putting ourselves ahead of them doesn't look to me like we are living up to that responsibility.  Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for looking out for the children.

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