School bus company will remove striking workers' health benefits Friday

School bus drivers and matrons strike in front

School bus drivers and matrons strike in front of Amboy Bus, Company. (Charles Eckert) (Credit: School bus drivers and matrons strike in front of Amboy Bus, Company. (Charles Eckert))

A group of striking school bus drivers may start losing their benefits for taking part in the two-week work stoppage.

Neil Strahl, the president of the Staten Island-based school bus company Pioneer Transporation Corp., sent a letter to his drivers and matrons warning them if they don't return to work by Friday morning, they'd lose their health benefits.

Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for Pioneer, said the letter was not made to be a threat, but made to show the members of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, what they're losing by not operating their routes.

"If they're not working, they're not entitled to benefits or pay. That's the downsides of the strike," she said.

Daly reassured that even if the drivers come back to work after Friday's deadline, they would get their benefits and pay back. The spokeswoman would not say how drivers and matrons are employed by Pioneer.

The union declined to comment about Pioneer's letter, but showed no signs that their 8,000 members would end the strike anytime soon. The union wants the mayor to put employment protection provisions in bids for 1,000 new school bus contracts. The provision would guarantee jobs for drivers, based on seniority, at new companies.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has refused to put EPP in because the courts deemed it illegal. He also refused to meet with the union during negotiations, contending their feud is with the bus companies not the city.

Daly disagreed with the mayor's idea noting that it was his idea to call for new contracts.

"There are issues with the city that we can't resolve. But we can get their paychecks back," she said.

Tags: NEWS , bus strike , Local 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union , Michael Bloomberg , Department of Education , Ivan Pereira , ARTICLE , AMNY , HOLD

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