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School bus drivers want protection

Stephon Johnson | 4/3/2014, 11:43 a.m.
School bus

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1181 wants New York City’s school busing contracts to include employee protection provisions (EPPs).

During a news conference last Thursday, ATU Local 1181, the parents group Parents to Improve School Transportation and elected officials came out in support of reinstating the provisions right before a City Council Education Committee began a hearing on EPPs. Michael Cordiello, president of Local 1181, said that the EPPs need to come back into contracts to ensure that drivers don’t struggle financially.

“Employee protection provisions ensure that our city’s schoolchildren are being transported to and from school every day by the most experienced and safest drivers and matrons available,” said Cordiello. “The previous administration’s decision to remove EPPs from our special education busing contracts was at best penny-wise and pound-foolish and at worst a callous attempt to drive the hard-working men and women of Local 1181 into poverty. I am optimistic that Mayor [Bill] de Blasio and the City Council will do the right thing and reinstate the EPPs as soon as possible to ensure the safety of our city’s schoolchildren and restore stability to our industry.”

“As parents, our top priority is ensuring the safety of our children,” added Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg’s repeal of this employee protection provision was yet another example of his work to strip hard-earned protections for working people. By reinstating the EPP process, school bus drivers and matrons would be rewarded for their years of hard work and dedication to protecting students while giving parents the peace of mind of knowing that their children are being cared for by experienced professionals.”

Back in 1979, in order to resolve a school bus strike, EPPs were designed to maintain civility among labor and management. In late 2013, Bloomberg and former Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott repealed the EPPs when they issued bids for special education routes, which led to a strike by ATU Local 1181 members in early 2013 that lasted a month. Then mayoral candidate de Blasio said he would revisit the EPP issue when he was elected into office.

According to the union, on top of inconveniencing many school children and their parents, the strike “cost the city over $21 million in transportation reimbursements on top of an uncalculated amount of police overtime, [which] drove multiple companies into bankruptcy and caused many drivers and matrons to go on food stamps due to cut salaries.”

New York City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley joined ATU Local 1181 at the rally and said that she stood with the union regarding their desire to reinstate EPPs. 

“Each morning, we place hundreds of thousands of young lives in the hands of our city’s school bus drivers. EPP makes sure that those drivers are the most experienced and qualified men and women to keep our children safe,” said Crowley.