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Union president: Committee to review school bus company's offer

Timothy Lynch, the Teamsters Local 1205 president, at

Timothy Lynch, the Teamsters Local 1205 president, at the Teamsters headquarters in Farmingdale on Sept. 10, 2015. Ronkonkoma-based Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. and its affiliate, Acme Buses, are still in talks with the union that represents the company's bus drivers. Credit: Johnny Milano

A negotiating committee for the union representing drivers who are locked in a dispute with a school bus company is expected to review an offer from the employer Sunday.

Talks between officials with Teamsters Local 1205 and Ronkonkoma-based Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. have gone on for days, starting first on Sept. 9 in an effort to head off a strike that could leave 15,000 students in Nassau and Suffolk counties seeking other forms of transportation.

"At the moment, we do not have a deal," union president Timothy Lynch said in a statement after 4 a.m. Friday as the latest bargaining session concluded at the union's Farmingdale headquarters. That session lasted about 14 hours, having resumed about 2 p.m. Thursday.

"The employer will be providing an offer to the union in writing sometime on Friday," Lynch's statement said. "The union's negotiating committee will be meeting on Sunday to review the document. At that time we will be making some decisions."

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Federal mediation between the union, the bus company and its affiliate, Acme Buses, began last week and continued Monday and Tuesday. The parties then agreed to halt talks until Thursday while the union reviewed revisions to a roughly 90-page draft contract.

The mediator has instructed both sides not to speak to reporters about the progress and any specific developments during negotiations.

Before breaking Tuesday, Lynch told Newsday that divisions remained on several issues. Baumann/Acme has 800 vans and small buses and 200 full-size buses. It employs 776 drivers, 406 drivers' assistants and 65 mechanics.

The company has contracts with about 35 school districts across Long Island, and the federal mediation process has been closely watched by districts and parents who would be affected by a strike.

Lynch has said workers make $11 to $13 an hour and need more pay, better working conditions and more contributions from the firm to employee health and benefit packages. The bus company has accused the union of being inflexible in demands for what the firm said amounted to a raise of 16 percent to 34 percent, depending on the job.

The effect of a strike would vary by district. Some use only a few of the company's buses and drivers, while others -- such as Commack -- contract 100 percent of busing duties to Baumann/Acme.

Commack officials have posted a strike contingency plan for student arrivals and dismissals, including staggered times for parents to drop off and pick up children.

Public school districts also are required to provide transport to BOCES, special education centers and private and parochial schools. Those students are expected to be affected by a strike, as a number of districts use Baumann/Acme for such transportation.

With Joie Tyrrell

and William Murphy

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