Possible school bus driver strike could leave New York City families in limbo

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Monday, August 21, 2023
Possible school bus driver strike could leave NYC families in limbo
Schools Chancellor David Banks issued a warning that the potential strike would largely impact young students and those with special needs. Joe Torres has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A possible school bus driver strike could impact thousands of public school students in New York City.

If a deal isn't reached with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 before the first day of school on Sept. 7, up to 150,000 students could be left without transportation.

The potential strike could leave many families in limbo and force parents to search for alternative transportation for their kids.

Sheryl Thompson has an 8-year-old son with autism.

"Now I am going to have to figure out what I'm gonna do...that's gonna cut back on my job and I have bills to pay. Food. Rent. All that," Thompson said. "I don't get assistance for any of that. So I don't know what I am gonna do."

About 7,000 school bus drivers and attendants saw their contracts expire at the end of June.

Negotiations between the Amalgamated Transit Union and Department of Education-contracted bus companies, like Pioneer and Consolidated, have reached a standstill.

Union leaders want drivers to get back the benefits they lost during their last strike 10 years ago. That includes a pay increase, although the union president wouldn't specify how much.

New drivers currently earn $22 an hour.

"The school bus has to become a career again, I don't like to get into the details because during negotiations things might change, but we want fair wages," ATU Local 1181-1061 President Tomás Fret said.

During a Parent Advisory Council zoom call earlier in August, Schools Chancellor David Banks issued a warning about the potential strike that would largely impact young students and those with special needs.

"This is something that can potentially affect anywhere from 85 to 150,000 students at the very beginning of the school year," Banks said.

The NYC Department of Education released the following statement:

"As negotiations continue, we are developing several contingency plans, as a precaution, to ensure students can get to school in the event of a strike - including, but not limited to, providing students with emergency MetroCards, reimbursement for use of alternative transportation, and, in some cases, free rideshare."

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