Federal mediation ended for the day Monday night with no resolution between a Long Island school bus company and its workers in a contract dispute that could leave 15,000 Nassau and Suffolk students -- many with special needs -- scrambling for rides to school.
Ronkonkoma-based Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. and its affiliate, Acme Buses, and employees in Teamsters Local 1205 resumed talks before noon at the union's office in Farmingdale.
They continued into the night as bus drivers walked in and out of the negotiating room, staying mum when asked about any progress.
"The union is determined to do everything we can to reach an agreement," Local 1205 president Timothy Lynch said after the mediation session concluded at 9:12 p.m. "We are inching along and have pledged to come back tomorrow and work through the day and into the night if necessary."
Talks were held last week, on Wednesday and Thursday, before Monday's resumption.
Lynch has said drivers and other union members are prepared to strike if the company does not meet demands on pay, benefits and work environment.
He said some employees -- who drive and work on vehicles in about 35 districts -- cannot support their families on $11 to $13 an hour.
At the same time, the bus company has said the union was inflexible in its demand for what the firm said amounted to a pay boost of 16 percent to 34 percent, depending on the job.
Affected districts have been working for days to find alternative transportation for students if that should become necessary.
Schools are not holding classes Tuesday in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, so the first day this week that a job action could affect students is Wednesday.
Besides busing students to public schools, those school systems also are responsible for transporting children to BOCES, special education centers and private and parochial schools.
The Island Trees district in Levittown has said a strike would mean no transportation for 18 private schools and for some occupational education students.
The company has 800 vans and small buses and 200 full-size buses. It employs 776 drivers, 406 drivers' assistants and 65 mechanics.
With Deborah S. Morris
and Valerie Bauman