NEW YORK – The New York City school bus drivers union went on strike today, stranding more than 100,000 children, the New York Times reported.
About 152,000 children – about 14 percent of the city’s public school students – who take the bus, NBC 4 New York reported. Some 54,000 of these students have disabilities.
It’s the first school bus strike in more than 30 years, the New York Times reported. Last time – in 1979 – the strike lasted 13 weeks.
Some 8,000 school bus drivers stopped work to protest a city proposal to put about 1,100 bus routes with private bus companies up for bid without providing job guarantees for union members, NBC 4 New York reported. Union jobs have been protected in previous contracts, and members worry that when current drivers’ contracts are up in June, they could lose their jobs.
According to the New York Times:
The Bloomberg administration argues that a recent court ruling has found that the city cannot offer the guarantees sought by the union.
The union says that the ruling does not rule out job guarantees as the city government claims, the New York Times reported.
The city distributed MetroCards this week that allow children to take the subway to school for free today, NBC 4 New York reported. On Thursday, free MetroCards will also be available for parents or guardians.
City resident Janet Balmes told NBC 4 New York that a free subway pass wouldn’t help her 5-year-old grandson get to school. "I don't let him walk to the corner by himself,” Balmes said. “I'm gonna put him on a city bus to go to school? I'm gonna let him get off, cross the street and go to school? Not in this lifetime.”
School bus routes operated by non-unionized drivers or members of other unions were still running – 11 percent of the routes for general education students and 38 percent of the routes for special-needs students – the New York Times reported.
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