For the past several days, Transit Union Local 1181 has threatened to strike n response to the city’s decision to invite bids on yellow school bus contracts.
The city said it has been more than 33 years since competitive bidding has occurred, and that transportation costs taxpayers an average of $6,900 a year per student. The second largest school district in the country, Los Angeles, costs less than half that.
The union believes special needs kids need experienced drivers and bus attendants, and that those corners will be cut if cheaper options are pursued.
“We have an obligation to use our money effectively,” Mayor Bloomberg asserted on Monday, reiterating a desire to “put that money in the classrooms.”
The mayor shrugged off the union’s concerns that current drivers could be pushed out of their jobs.
“We cannot dictate to any bidder that they have to employ the current people,” he said “And I can tell you we wouldn’t do it anyway.”
The mayor said that his administration is ready to provide students and parents with MetroCards in the event of a strike, and have a voucher system in place for private cars where needed.
Some are concerned that the union may not give ample notice before going on strike.
City Councilman David Greenfield urged negotiators on both sides to continue talks and avoid a strike, highlighting the 60,000 special needs students who reply on transportation to schools.
“It would be a slap in the face to the hard-working parents on New York City to stop yellow bus service without giving parents the opportunity to make alternate arrangements,” Greenfield warned.