NYC school bus strike enters second day

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New York City's first school bus strike in 34 years entered its second day Thursday with no resolution in sight and tens of thousands of parents scrambling to get their kids to school.

Some parents said the strike was wreaking havoc on their schedules. Saah Hinneh brought his third-grader to Staten Island Community Charter School and then rushed to work. "I'm supposed to be at work at 8 o'clock," he said. "If you are late three times, they write you up."

Hinneh said that if the strike continues, he will ask for his shift to be changed to afternoons or nights. "I don't want to lose my job," he said.

Also on Staten Island, Angela Peralta's day included getting up at 5 a.m. to drive one of her daughters to Intermediate School 2, going to work, then taking her three daughters to dance class and shopping for furniture to replace what she lost when superstorm Sandy flooded her home.

"I'm hoping this will be over by Monday or Tuesday because I can't do this much longer," she said.

The strike pits the city's need to rein in spiraling costs against the bus drivers' goal of preserving their jobs. Just 152,000 of New York City's 1.1 million public schoolchildren ride yellow school buses, but the cost of busing students has risen from $100 million in 1979 to $1.1 billion now. The city spends almost $7,000 per bus passenger, compared with $3,200 in Chicago and $5,000 in Miami.

The city contracts with private bus companies, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the city must seek competitive bids to save money. But Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union wants the new contracts to include job protections for current drivers.

The city said that the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, has barred it from including such provisions because of competitive bidding laws; the union said that's not so.

Local 1181 president Mike Cordiello went on "Good Day New York" Thursday to again urge the city to negotiate. "Stop saying that you can't negotiate -- you can," he said.

Some buses were running Thursday because their drivers are not members of Local 1181, and the city Department of Education said 2,320 bus routes out of 7,700 were operating. The department also said strikers tried to block buses from leaving 11 depots Thursday. The union did not return a call seeking comment.

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