Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott warned today that the city is facing “strong possibility” of a school bus strike next week, one which Bloomberg says would result in "chaos." Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union is threatening to strike over the city's plan to ask for bids for service to transport special education pre-kindergarten children for next school year. “So the union is threatening an illegal strike that would harm the education of more than 152,000 students if it doesn’t get its way. And that’s just outrageous,” Bloomberg said at City Hall earlier.
Bloomberg said the strike seems imminent, but stressed that what the union is seeking is illegal: “The union representing school bus drivers is seeking something that we are not legally allowed to offer: Job guarantees for certain current drivers. The highest court in New York State has ruled unambiguously that the law doesn’t allow that. The law mandates that we seek bids from bus companies in a competitive fashion; it prohibits us from doing what the union wants." You can read Bloomberg's whole speech, including what parents should do should a strike occur, here.
Union president Michael Cordiello told the News that the strike could happen any time: "In a time when the economy is failing and people need to be in work, this is all about protecting jobs." Walcott sent out a letter to parents (read it here) saying the city is "deeply concerned about the impact of a strike on our students and families and we want you to be prepared in the event one occurs."
Among those contingency plans, Walcott said the city has already purchased some 300,000 Metrocards which will be distributed to students who now take a yellow bus from a bus stop to school. In addition, students who have to take a car or taxi to school will be reimbursed for the cost; field trips will be canceled for schools affected; and lateness and absence due to a strike will be excused.