January 30, 2013
Union leaders of the Amalgamated Transit Union and Council Member Jumaane Williams took calls from constituents of the 45th Council District during a telephone town hall. Many callers expressed frustration over the Mayor’s unwillingness to negotiate with ATU Local 1181 that represents school bus drivers, and union leaders implored the callers to call the Mayor’s office to pressure Bloomy to end the strike.
A snap poll was taken during the call and the results revealed that 96 percent of the callers support the drivers and matrons, while only four percent support the Mayor.
“I met with the Mayor and he said the majority of city residents support his position, but recent snap polls show overwhelming support for the drivers and matrons,” said ATU’s International President, Larry Hanley.
Callers asked Hanley and Local 1181’s president, Michael Cordiello, what they can do to support the union and help end the strike.
“Contact the Mayor’s office and other elected officials, and encourage friends and family to rally around the drivers who earn on average a modest salary,” said Hanley.
The strike by school bus drivers and matrons is in its third week. Roughly 150,000 students, many of them with learning disabilities, are affected. The Mayor has said that the city can no longer afford the increasing transportation costs for students, and wants to redirect any savings from new bids back into the classroom.
But Hanley and Cordiello disputed those claims, saying that rising transportation costs is not the consequence of wage inflation, but the proliferation of charter schools that require drivers to transport students long distances and an explosion of costs in services to aid students with special education needs.
The union met with school bus operators and a mediator on Monday at City Hall, but Hanley said that without the Mayor or a representative present, the negotiations are futile.