Some school bus workers terminated on first day back since strike
Life returned to normal Wednesday for more than 150,000 city students who take school buses, but it was a different story for roughly 100 returning bus workers.
Although the nearly 8,000 school bus drivers and matrons stopped picketing, some companies fired their workers for taking part in the monthlong work stoppage, according to their union.
Michael Cordiello, the president of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, encouraged supporters to keep up the fight, maintain that his members had the right to strike.
"Parents should be outraged at the irresponsibility of not allowing Local 1181 members -- who provide their children with safe, experienced transportation . . . -- to return to their jobs," he said in a statement Wednesday.
Several school bus operators in Brooklyn that supposedly gave the 1181 workers the pink slip declined to comment. The city's Department of Education said attendance was 88.5% during the first day back from a shortened winter break.
The union members stopped working on Jan. 16 because they wanted the city to include employee protection provision in the 1,100 bids, which haven't been doled out since 1979.
The provision mandates companies that win bids had to hire experienced drivers from the for bus operators at equal pay.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott maintained that the courts deemed EPP illegal and the union's feud was with the bus companies not the city.
Although the mayor didn't meet with union leaders during the monthlong ordeal, he did set up a meeting between them and school bus companies at Gracie Mansion.
Cordiello continued to chastise the mayor and promised to work with his successor on the EPP issue. Five potential Democratic mayoral candidates, Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Sal Albanese, signed a letter last week to the union where they promised to revisit the contracts if elected.
Quinn and Councilman Robert Jackson, who chairs the education committee, sent a letter to parents Tuesday alerting them about the buses, but didn't give any new comment about the bids Wednesday.
During a news conference Tuesday, Bloomberg said he didn't'' know what caused the union to suspend the work stoppage but said the outcome was good for the kids.
"Some people say the union won or the administration won. That's not true. The kids have won," he said.
The mayor declined to comment about the letter from the Democratic candidates or if it had an effect on the strike, which cost the city about $21 million so far.
He reiterated that the city needed to approve the bids as soon as possible to curb the annual billion dollar cost for school buses.
"We are constantly finding ways to reduce our expenses where we would not want to have them and put them into thing that we would want to provide," he said.