School Bus Union Slams City for Rejecting Offer to Suspend Strike

By Trevor Kapp on January 30, 2013 2:52pm 

NEW YORK — The leaders of a union representing school bus drivers slammed Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday for delaying the resolution of the two-week-old school bus strike.

“They’re holding up this whole process. They’re keeping the kids off the buses. They’re keeping my people on the streets,” said Michael Cordiello, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181. “He needs to come to the table and resolve this in an intelligent and useful manner.”

Cordiello said the drivers union met earlier this week with retired Justice Milton Mollen, who is mediating the issue, and told him the union would support a two-to-three-month "cooling off" period if the city agreed to postpone its plan to re-bid the driver contracts with private bus companies in June.

Drivers would return to work during the period and Local 1181 would continue to negotiate with the city, Cordiello said.

But city officials declined the offer, Cordiello said.

“We don’t know why that would be rejected,” Cordiello said. “We think that’s a viable way to end the strike, and we urge the city to work with us to end the strike and move back the bids.”

But Bloomberg said putting off the bids would just keep the same failed, expensive system in place.

“Postponing the bids would guarantee that the same billion-dollar contracts we have now stay in place next year,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “The union is irresponsibly holding our students and city hostage over issues that can only be resolved by negotiating directly with the bus companies.”

 

ATU International President Larry Hanley said the mayor’s numbers are wrong and added that busing kids accounts for less than 4 percent of the city's education budget.

“The mayor has started this,” Hanley said. “And the mayor has said he’s going to go forward based on completely erroneous, spectacular information.”

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