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Bus drivers’ union sets vote on agreement with Baumann for Nov. 28

Children boarding school buses at Freeport's New Visions

Children boarding school buses at Freeport's New Visions School of Exploration and Discovery, which has kindergarten through fourth grade, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Unionized drivers who went on a nearly two-week strike that affected four Nassau County school districts agreed Friday to put a proposed agreement with Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. to a ratification vote on Nov. 28.

The action came a day after the drivers ended the strike that disrupted the transportation routines of more than 20,000 students in the Baldwin, Freeport, Hicksville and Rockville Centre districts.

More than 300 bus drivers, monitors and mechanics had been on strike against Ronkonkoma-based Baumann. The job action began Nov. 6.

Transport Workers Union Local 252 president Debra Hagan said Friday that “the membership agreed to take the proposal to a ratification vote on the 28th of November.”

The drivers’ return to work capped a week that saw the four districts scrambling to find other companies to cover bus routes.

The status of the company’s relationship with some of the districts remains uncertain. Earlier this week, the Baldwin, Freeport and Rockville Centre districts all announced plans to issue formal requests for proposals for new bus company contracts.

The Hicksville district posted on its website that the school board took action to approve “assignment of its transportation contract to Educational Bus Transportation (EBT), effective Monday, November 20, 2017.”

The Rockville Centre school board on Tuesday voted to terminate its contract with Baumann, effective 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, Superintendent William Johnson said the district is moving forward with its plan to seek a new bus company.

Freeport Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said Thursday that the district is sticking with Baumann for the time being.

Company president Ronald Baumann, in a statement issued Thursday immediately after the latest round of talks ended, said that 150 employees had crossed picket lines.

Baumann said the company has offered to extend the proposed contract from three to five years. “We hope that the union seriously considers the proposal to lengthen the contract for a longer period for labor peace,” Baumann said.

Hagan said the agreement includes raises, gains in sick leave and an increase in the employer’s 401(k) contribution.

With Scott Eidler

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