More school bus drivers, matrons spark heated protests

January 29, 2013 8:54:02 AM PST
A heated protest was held Tuesday morning over New York City's ongoing school bus strike.

Non-union drivers were joined by matrons from another union, which generated outrage on the picket lines.

At least 68 school buses rolled from the Meredith Avenue yard on Staten Island, operated by Staten Island Bus Company.

The buses left the yard for the first time during the strike, after union members who are not part of the striking local were trained to work as matrons.

Members of United Service Workers Local 355, who are normally school bus drivers, served the as the matrons. They received four hours of training and were certified yesterday.

The Local 355 is not on strike. Numerous members of the striking union, Amalgamated Transit Union 1181, were outraged the workers crossed their picket lines.

However, the school bus companies said they are seeing less non ATU 1181 workers, with some apparently unwilling to cross picket lines. Some older drivers are retiring and others calling in sick. At least two replacements who showed up for work at the Staten Island yard decided against it.

The lot managed to cover 59 of its 113 routes.

On Monday, bus companies and union leaders met in an effort to resolve the strike. A mediator conducted the meeting at the mayor's official residence at Gracie Mansion.

The strike entered its ninth day Tuesday.

The conflict is over the city's need to rein in spiraling costs against the bus drivers' goal of ensuring they keep their jobs.

The city contracts with the private bus companies. It says the city must seek competitive bids to save money. Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union wants the new contracts to include job protections for current drivers.

A decision is expected this week on whether the strike is even legal, after the National Labor Relations Board heard challenges last week.


Summary and links:

The city is taking the following steps for families of students who currently receive yellow bus service:

  • All students who currently receive yellow bus service may receive a MetroCard. MetroCards should be requested through the school's general office. The DOE has informed the Metropolitan Transit Authority that it may need to accommodate additional riders.

  • Parents of pre-school and school-age children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and require transportation from their home directly to their school, as well as parents of general education children in grades K-2, may also request a MetroCard to escort their children to school.

  • Parents of children who receive busing from their home or are in grades K through 6 and do not live in areas where public transportation between home and school is available may request reimbursement for transportation costs. Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed at a rate of 55 cents per mile. Parents who use a taxi or car service to transport their child to school will be reimbursed for the trip upon completion of reimbursement forms that includes a receipt for provided services. Requests for reimbursements should be made weekly on forms that will be available on the DOE web site,, and in schools' general offices. Families who plan to drive or use a car service to carpool are encouraged to carpool with their neighbors whenever possible.

  • In the unfortunate event that students cannot get to school, the Department will be posting materials online for every grade and core subject so that students can continue their learning at home during the strike.

    The DOE will continue to update New Yorkers and will post new information on Information will also be available at 311.

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