School bus drivers strike in New York

Author: 
Ira Berkovic

School bus drivers in New York, USA, are striking against attempts by Mayor Bloomberg to abolish contractual protection that guarantees workers keep their jobs if a bus route is transferred from one private operator to another.

The strike, which is organised by Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, began on Wednesday 16 January. ATU members are responsible for transporting over 150,000 students to school in America’s largest school district. The ATU also represents attendants and mechanical workers who maintain and repair school buses.

Occupy Wall Street activist and journalist Peter Rugh writes:

“If Bloomberg manages to break the union he will have succeeded where his predecessors including Edward Koch and Rudolf Giuliani failed. While Koch and Giuliani sat down with the union and negotiated, Bloomberg has not.

“And that is because he's got a weapon up his sleeve that those who came before him didn't: complete mayoral control over the school system. Under a 2002 law that Bloomberg himself championed, the Wall Street mogul has the ability to stack the city's Department of Education governing board with hand-picked favorites. Members of the Panel on Education Policy can be plucked off the board at any time, ensuring Bloomberg gets his way.

“Mayoral control has not only been bad news for the school bus union, but teachers and students have also been hit hard under Bloomberg's reign; 140 schools have been shuttered since Bloomberg took office in 2001. Another 27 are slated for closure this year.”

ATU members fear that Bloomberg will soon begin hiring scab drivers to break the strike.