Negotiations between a bus company and a workers’ union are scheduled to continue, following the threat of a strike earlier this week that could have affected four school districts in Nassau County, according to officials of Baumann & Sons Buses Inc.
Talks between the Ronkonkoma-based company and Transportation Workers Union Local 252, which represents 300 drivers, monitors and mechanics serving the Baldwin, Freeport, Hicksville and Rockville Centre districts are set Nov. 10 with a federal mediator, bus company officials said.
“The company does not want its employees to strike and hopes that they will ask the union for a chance to review the proposals and decide what they want,” the company said in a statement Thursday.
Debra Hagan, president of TWU Local 252, said, “We made serious progress yesterday [Wednesday], and we’re trying to come to some definitive terms . . . in order to avert a strike.”
A sticking point is whether the employees can be paid on a consistent five-day per week schedule. Currently, they are paid only for the days they have worked as designated in the districts’ school calendars, meaning employees are not paid when a holiday or day-off occurs midweek, Hagan said.
“They’re at the low end of the pay scale, so it’s very important for them to have a consistent salary” going forward, Hagan said.
Baumann officials said they offered two proposals to Local 252. The first included a 2 percent wage increase, and the second provided a guarantee of weeks for all drivers and driver’s assistants and a 2 percent wage increase for mechanics. Hagan said her union was not satisfied with the specifics of the offers.
William Johnson, superintendent for the Rockville Centre district, said Thursday he hopes the employees “would sit quietly and wait to see what transpires at that meeting.”
“It’s somewhat disruptive already, in the sense we have to continue to put in plans on a daily basis that are contingency plans,” Johnson said. “Every day we have to have a Plan B in place in the event there is a strike or job action of some kind.”
The district will do what it must to “get our kids to all the sporting events, to whatever other activity that is going on to make sure all of their activities go on uninterrupted,” he said.
Shari Camhi, superintendent of the Baldwin system, said in a statement that since learning of the possibility of a strike, the district “has made it a top priority to act in the best interest of our students and has continually communicated with our families as we receive new information. We hope that the bus company and its employees can come to a quick resolution, allowing us to maintain our focus on the education of our students.”
Hagan said the union will give “advance notice” to districts regarding a potential strike “so children aren’t just stranded in the morning at bus stops.”