Public Advocate Bill de Blasio urges Mayor to get buses rolling
Flanked by parents of schoolchildren at City Hall, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio Tuesday urged Mayor Michael Bloomberg to bring all parties of the school bus strike together for a "cooling off" period and get drivers on the road again.
"The absence of these buses has changed the lives of our children for the worse," de Blasio said, holding a letter signed by parents asking the mayor to step in.
De Blasio said this was a "conflict that didn't have to happen" and cited pass precedent where mayors have stepped into to end labor disputes. The school bus driver unions have been striking for 20 days now, with no end in sight, want
Nearly on- third of disabled students have been unable to get to school in the three weeks the bus strike has gone on, according to de Blasio.
"The mayor is acting like a bully in the schoolyard," said Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. "He's holding the transpiration and education of our children hostage for politics."
The mayor's office pointed out the city needs to put out the bids for the drivers to bring down costs; and the union is striking over something "we legally cannot include and hiring issues are not something the city can dictate to a private employer and their employees," a spokeswoman said.
"It's sad that special interest advocate de Blasio is siding with adults who are using children as pawns," said a spokeswoman for Mayor Bloomberg. "If he (de Blasio) wants to help kids, he should persuade the union to return to work."
Joe Williams, whose 14-year-old son is autistic, said it takes nearly four hours out of his day to get his child to and from school.
"He's missing valuable instruction time," Williams said. His son receives speech, physical, and occupational therapy. "This is affecting our children more than just academically. It's affecting them physically, mentally, and psychologically."