The recently-ended school bus strike in New York City left many families scrambling for transportation. Others, especially children with special needs, used the non-union bus companies hired by city schools. While these buses save parents from having to find transportation for their students, their performance raised significant safety issues.
Last week, a crash occurred in Park Slope in Brooklyn at 5th Avenue and 14th Street. The child was reportedly hospitalized. Before that crash, 14 people in Bushwick, including 11 children, were injured when a non-union school bus slammed into a car on Stanhope Street.
Did the city compromised student safety with its efforts to cut the cost of bus transportation? Members of the union think so. According to the shop steward of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, “Union drivers are safe. Non-union drivers are not safe.”
The president of the union, Michael Cordiello, said, “The fact is, a safe workforce is an experienced workforce and the Employee Protection Provisions currently included in the City’s busing contracts protect our most experienced drivers, matrons, and mechanics – and have created one of the safest workforces in the entire country.”
One issue in the strike is whether the city should allow non-union bus companies to bid on supplying the city with transportation services. The union asserts that the accidents that occurred during the strike show that non-union bus drivers are not safe.
The union called off the strike last Friday in response to the accidents that had occurred, but vowed to continue the struggle.
Source: CBS New York, “Union: New York City School Bus Strike Ends, But We Will Fight On,” Feb. 15, 2013.