Another round of federal mediation talks between a Long Island school bus company and its employees ended Tuesday night in Farmingdale without a resolution, but negotiations are scheduled to resume Thursday, said the president of the workers' union.
"There are many issues that still divide us," said Timothy Lynch, president of Teamsters Local 1205.
He said the break will allow for reviews of revisions to the approximately 90-page contract discussed in negotiations.
"These are very tedious but important discussions and our members are determined to see the bargaining through."
Bus company representatives did not comment Tuesday night.
Without an agreement, 15,000 Nassau and Suffolk students -- many with special needs -- could be forced to find other ways to get to school.
Ronkonkoma-based Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. and its affiliate, Acme Buses, and employees in Teamsters Local 1205 resumed talks Tuesday morning at the union's office.
They picked up after continuing into the night Monday. Long Island public schools were closed Monday and Tuesday for the Jewish holy days.
Lynch has said drivers and other union members are prepared to strike if the company does not meet demands on pay, benefits and work environment. He said some employees -- who drive and work on vehicles in about 35 districts -- cannot support their families on $11 to $13 an hour.
The bus company has said the union was inflexible in demands for what the firm said amounted to a raise of 16 percent to 34 percent, depending on the job.
Affected districts have been working to find alternative transportation for students if that should become necessary.
Roberta Gerold, superintendent of the Middle Country School District, said in a statement Tuesday that the bus strike would impact about a couple of thousand students.
"The district is very large and we will still transport the majority of our students," she said. "All of our schools as well as BOCES programs and private & parochial schools will be affected."
Besides busing students to public schools, those school systems also are responsible for transporting children to BOCES, special education centers and private and parochial schools.
The Island Trees district in Levittown has said a strike would mean no transportation for 18 private schools and for some occupational education students.The company has 800 vans and small buses and 200 full-size buses. It employs 776 drivers, 406 drivers' assistants and 65 mechanics.
With Deborah S. Morris