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Long Island

Voting begins on new school bus workers contract

Baumann and Sons and Acme Bus Corp. on

Baumann and Sons and Acme Bus Corp. on Veterans Memorial Highway on Monday on Sept. 7, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

Workers for a Ronkonkoma-based school bus company are scheduled to vote from Thursday through Monday on a new contract offer union leaders negotiated the day after a narrow majority of voters elected to strike, officials said.

Timothy Lynch, president of Teamsters Local 1205, said bus drivers and other workers for Baumann & Sons Inc., and its affiliate, Acme Buses, will vote at their work sites. The outcome will affect 15,000 Long Island students who ride the buses each school day in about 35 school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

"The union position was it was necessary to conduct a ratification vote at the [company] facilities by the end of this week," Lynch said in an email Monday.

He said the final vote and count will be Monday afternoon, with results available shortly after 2 p.m. He declined to provide details of the new contract until after voting concluded.

A ratification by bus drivers and other workers would officially end the threat of a strike that has loomed since Lynch notified districts in late August that a walkout was imminent.

Glenn Smith, an attorney for Baumann/Acme, deferred to the union to provide details on the last-minute changes that allowed both sides to reach a tentative pact.

The changes persuaded union leadership to shift from their previous position on the contract, which 595 voting workers rejected 302-293 on Saturday.

With the nine-vote margin, workers approved a strike; however, Lynch did not set a date for the work stoppage.

Little more than 24 hours later, the company and union issued a joint statement late Sunday, announcing that further negotiations had led to the tentative agreement workers are now considering.

The new vote is expected to draw more of the estimated 1,035 union workers eligible to participate.

The union had demanded increased pay and contributions for health and other benefits and better working conditions.

Officials for Baumann had said the final offer -- which was rejected -- would have had the company spending 12 percent to 14 percent more on employee costs, including raises (starting in the second and third years of a three-year contract for most workers) and benefits.

A strike would have affected districts unevenly, with some using few Baumann/Acme vehicles for student transportation, while others -- such as the Commack school district -- rely on the company for all of their busing needs.


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