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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
New York City school bus drivers who are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union plan to go on strike Wednesday, objecting to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to award some school bus routes to the "lowest responsible bidder." That would potentially put many longtime bus drivers and matrons out of work when their contracts expire, to be replaced by cheapest workers the new bus companies could hire while still being considered "responsible."

Bloomberg insists that he cannot build employment protections into the bus contracts due to a court decision, but The Ed Show's Ned Resnikoff reports that "while there's some truth to Mayor Bloomberg’s argument, according to New York labor lawyer Stuart Lichten":

It’s just not the whole truth.

“If [city officials] are saying that they can’t keep the exact same provision, they’re probably right,” said Lichten. “But if they’re saying they can’t work to make sure these employees are protected, with just a little bit of imagination, I think they’re wrong.”

According to the ruling, said Lichten, “any procedure having an anti-competitive effect on the bidding process can only be justified on the basis of saving the public money, or causing the contract to be performed without disruption.” While EPPs might not meet that standard, other rules which protect current bus drivers might.

For example, “they could require that the bus drivers have certain amounts of experience or certain qualifications, like maybe licenses.” Such rules, said Lichten, could be justified “on the grounds that maybe it doesn’t lower costs, but it certainly prevents disruption of service.”

Of course, Bloomberg doesn't want to protect good jobs for people who aren't already rich, and he certainly doesn't want to protect good jobs in education. He's shown that time and time again.

Teamsters working for the New York Department of Education will not be striking, but they will be honoring picket lines. Bloomberg is the "one party responsible for the possible job action by unionized bus drivers represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union," according to Danny Gatto, president of Teamsters Local 854:

For weeks now, City Hall has refused to discuss the job-killing provisions they are insisting on as part of new contracts with bus contractors. It’s almost as if City Hall wants this strike to happen for some perverse reason. [...] The best way to avoid a job action is for all sides to negotiate face to face, but City Hall would rather throw the entire system into disarray than sit at a table with the ATU. The workers deserve better, the parents deserve better and the children deserve better.
Strikes—especially strikes with potential for widespread disruption—are often averted at the last minute, but in this case, the drivers appear ready to strike for their job security and the mayor appears to think a strike is worth the chance to weaken job security and drive down wages for school bus drivers.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:28 PM PST.

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

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