According to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, a strike by school bus drivers is "not now a matter of if, but a matter of when." But don't worry, the city has plans to make sure that kids don't miss any school (they missed enough during Hurricane Sandy). Sorry kids!
“This is totally irresponsible and disrespectful to our students and our family,” Walcott said of the threatened work stoppage. "[Drivers] are holding our students hostage simply by saying that they are going to strike." In case you haven't been following: The bus drivers union is looking to protect a provision that would keep workers from being canned if the companies they work for lose their contract with the city (which is trying to save money with new contracts). The protections the union is looking to keep had previously been struck down as illegal in a 2011 court decision.
"The bus drivers’ union is threatening to walk out on our kids this week," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday, announcing the city's backup plan, "needlessly jeopardizing the education of the more than 150,000 students who take school buses every day." The city is still hoping that the union will back down, but if it doesn't, they're prepared:
If a strike does happen, we have a plan in place to help all affected students get to school. First, students who currently receive yellow school bus service can get a temporary MetroCard valid as long as the strike continues. They will be available at schools and should be requested through the school’s general office. Parents of children in grades K-2 can request an additional MetroCard to escort their child to school. So can parents of children who require transportation from their homes directly to their school.
Parents of children in grades K-6 who get yellow bus service and for whom public transportation to school is not an option can get reimbursed for transportation costs. If they decide to drive their children to school, they’ll be reimbursed at a rate of 55 cents per mile. If they use a taxi or car service, they’ll be reimbursed after completing a form available in their schools.
Students who arrive at school late because of disruptions to yellow bus service will be excused for up to two hours. Children who are unable to attend school because of disruptions to yellow bus service will be marked absent with an explanation code that will ensure their attendance record is not negatively affected. And afterschool programs will remain open, but no school busing will be provided.
So when will we know if Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union's drivers are striking? They've promised to give the city 24 hours notice, but have yet to do so.