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825 Long Islanders face layoffs at bus company

A Staten Island school bus company that employs 825 people on Long Island said it is going out of business because it was unable to reach an agreement with unionized workers to cut labor costs.

Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., whose yellow buses transport many Long Island students, affirmed its plans Friday after workers on Wednesday rejected a contract that would have cut salaries.

Last month, Atlantic said that without lower labor costs it would close by the end of December and lay off its estimated 5,500 employees, including those on Long Island. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in November.

Carolyn Daly, a company spokeswoman, said bids on Atlantic's assets were due in bankruptcy court Friday.

"Our goal was to find some cost savings in the labor contract to allow us to become more competitive and financially stable and preserve the jobs and our company," she said. "Without this contract we have no choice but to proceed with the sale of all the company's assets and contracts."

She said the company would try to ensure "as smooth a transition as possible" to a new owner. It isn't clear if any of the employees would be hired by the company that buys the assets.

A spokesman for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, which represents the workers, said the company's contract offer would have resulted in "drastic pay cuts."

And he said the company has yet to reimburse bus drivers and others for an imposed 7.5 percent pay reduction in the spring that a court later invalidated. The union blamed the company for its financial woes.

Atlantic also operates in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California and has Long Island locations in Farmingdale, Plainview and Oceanside. Its biggest market is New York City.

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