Union leaders representing employees of a private school bus company said late Sunday that they unanimously rejected a contract proposal from the Ronkonkoma-based firm and plan to put the matter to a vote of the entire 1,200-person membership.

Teamsters Local 1205 President Timothy Lynch, in a statement, said a special meeting will be called as soon as possible to vote on the offer by Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. and its affiliate, Acme Buses.

The statement also said the union had informed company officials of the union negotiating committee's rejection of the proposal, and had requested new meeting dates with a federal mediator who has been overseeing talks over the past two weeks.

Officials for Baumann & Sons could not immediately be reached for comment last night. Representatives previously have said the employees have been inflexible when it comes to costly demands.

The labor dispute has been closely watched by school districts and families that would be affected if the bus drivers went on strike. About 35 districts have contracts with the company for all or part of their transportation, and a job action would affect about 15,000 students in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Baumann/Acme has 800 vans and small buses and 200 full-size buses. It employs 776 drivers, 406 drivers' assistants and 65 mechanics.

Union officials have said some workers make $11 to $13 an hour, and need more to support themselves and their families.

Lynch, in the statement issued last night, said while the latest offer had improved somewhat since the most recent proposal in June, it wasn't enough. Demands also included greater company contributions toward health coverage and safer working conditions.

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The company has said the union has sought raises of 16 percent to 34 percent, depending on the job.