January 11, 2013
By Councilman Vincent Gentile
Safe Reliable School Bus Transportation Needed
New York City school buses are still rolling, but the threat of a strike still looms. This is a cause for great concern for every parent, union member and elected official in New York City.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 represents thousands of hardworking men and women who together help make New York City the greatest place in the world. These members provide safe and reliable transportation to hundreds of thousands of New York City school students on a daily basis.
I was proud to stand with my colleagues on the steps of City Hall back in December to demand Mayor Bloomberg leave employee protection provisions in place as they have been for the past 30 years. Now is not the time to remove the most qualified and experienced school bus drivers just to save a few bucks when over 150,000 students rely on yellow buses to get to and from our schools each and every day.
I respect the men and women of Local 1181 and their right to a fair contract based on appropriate compensation, benefits and job security. Ensuring access to a quality education is of utmost importance and a vital part of that equation is transportation.
The dispute is simple – it’s about saving money – but the message it sends is absolutely despicable. How we treat those who care for our children reflects directly upon how we value our children. Playing chicken with the men and women who provide safe and reliable transportation to hundreds of thousands of New York City school students on a daily basis in the name of protecting the city’s bottom line is reprehensible. It is not the union treating our students as pawns but the administration!
That said, in the interest in fairness, Councilman Gentile is respectfully asking Local 1181 to provide at least 48 hours notice before a strike in order for parents and caretakers to prepare or secure alternate transportation plans.
“This is between the union and the administration – let’s leave the kids out of it.”