(Update) Menino, education officials slam Boston school bus drivers for illegal wildcat strike

Nanette Cromartie, a mother of a BPS student, confronts bus drivers who are currently striking. (Metro photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki)
Nanette Cromartie, a mother of a BPS student, confronts striking bus drivers. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Calling the 635 Boston school bus drivers who staged an illegal and unannounced work strike today “selfish people who only want to cause disruption to our city,” Mayor Thomas Menino said it was unclear whether drivers would return to their jobs Wednesday.

“This is extremely frustrating for (parents),” Menino said at 6:15 p.m. press conference at City Hall. “I don’t blame them for being angry. I’m angry.”

A federal judge on Tuesday denied an emergency injunction request that would have, essentially, forced the drivers to return to work.

The MBTA will provide students with free transportation Wednesday, and Boston Public Schools will open one hour earlier than usual to accommodate alternative transportation arrangements.

More than 33,000 students are affected by the strike. Despite the disruption, 82 percent of Boston students were in class yesterday, Menino said.

“This union can’t stop our schools from educationg our young ones. The only thing in jeopardy is their own livelihood,” he said of the striking drivers.

Drivers who belong to the United Steelworkers of America Local 8751 union staged the wildcat strike in protest of tight driving schedules, lack of bathroom breaks, the elimination of Daily Bus Reports and extensive payroll problems.

On Tuesday, workers at the yard watched the news as local media aired coverage of the strike. Some meandered around the grounds, which were packed with buses, while others sat at tables inside an employee area, playing cards.

“It’s not that we don’t want to drive kids to school. We love driving the kids. We want to make sure they get to school on time, and have breakfast. I wouldn’t be doing this for 23 years if I didn’t love it,” said Olysa Brument, a driver and union chief steward.

Brument said drivers have reached their breaking point due to what they consider to be heightened demands imposed by Veolia Transportation, a public transportation company that took over the system’s bus contract this summer. The company assumed responsibility for operational management of the city’s school bus services in July, but since the school year began, Brument said drivers worry about hitting traffic and red lights because their routes are so tight.

“It is unsafe for us to drive and worry about timing. We often have no bathroom breaks. We do push ourselves to get our kids to school, and we want to be treated fairly even if we are running late. They are supposed to pay us for the full time that we drove, and they are not doing that,” said Brument. “We have no problem going to work, but we’re stressed out.”

Nanette Cromartie, left, a parent of a child in public school in Dorchester, comes down to the bus yard to confront drivers. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

“All you’re doing is keeping my son from going to school, keeping me from going to work,” Nanette Cromartie, who confronted striking drivers at the Freeport Street bus yard in Dorchester.

Striking drivers sit in the bus yard.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

The drivers are also protesting the new web tool that allows families to track the location of their child’s school bus in real time.

Boston school buses remain in the bus yard this morning.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

The United Steelworkers District 4 Director John Shinn released a statement Tuesday condemning the strike.

“This activity does not represent the majority of our members, who believe that our issues with Veolia Transportation must be addressed through proper avenues including our contractual grievance procedure and the National Labor Relations Board,” Shinn said.

Automated phone calls went out to families Tuesday morning about the strike action. For those with questions, the district has also expanded its transportation hotline to answer families’ questions at (617) 635-9520 and the mayor’s 24-hour hotline is available at (617) 635-4500.

Families can also check the location of their school bus in real time using the ”Where’s My School Bus” app, at http://schoolbus.bostonpublicschools.org.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…