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Bus strike remains in limbo as city, union weigh options

Bus strike rally

Bus strike rally (Credit: Councilman Mathieu Eugene talks to bus drivers during a rally. (Linda Rosier))

A potential school bus strike is still in limbo as anxious parents and educators weigh options for 150,000 students if it does become a reality.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 8,800 school bus drivers said Monday there have been no progress in their talks with the city's Department of Education on its plans to put out new bids for school bus contracts.

The union's members have threatened to strike but have not specified the date they'd walk off the job, which has left the DOE worried kids will be left at the curb without notice.

"We don't think it will be [Tuesday], but we just don't know," said one city education official. .

The bids, which haven't been available for 33 years, don't include an employee protection provision and many drivers fear they could lose their jobs since several city bus contracts end in June. The bids only account for 1,100 contracts, or a sixth of all bus contracts and 2,000 bus drivers.

Michael Cordiello, the union's president, said those provisions are needed to ensure that the best drivers are on the job.

"Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg and Chancellor [Dennis] Walcott are attempting to take away the jobs of thousands of experienced school bus drivers and matrons who provide years of unmatched training and experience for all of our children," he said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the union said itis weighing all options but if there is a strike they will give a fair notice in advance.

The DOE has a contingency plan for the parents of the students in case the strike does happen. Parents will receive MetroCards or can request reimbursement for miles. The city will also post schoolwork online.

Walcott blasted the union for "jerking children around" Monday and noted that the courts ruled that EPP is illegal.

"All we're saying is we want competition," he said during a news event in the Bronx Monday.

Walcott reminded that the city pays more than a billion dollars a year in school bus and that money could be better used in classrooms.

Tags: NEWS , Department of Education , Dennis Walcott , Michael Bloomberg , Amalgamated Transit Union , Ivan Pereira , ARTICLE , AMNY , HOLD

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