What Is the City School Bus Strike About?

Sifting through the rhetoric from both sides in the city's first school bus strike since 1979, which left 150,000 students without a way to and from school today, this isn't your usual collective bargaining dispute.

There is no collective bargaining agreement between the 8,800-member Local 1811 of the Amalgamated Transit Union and the city, which has put a new contract out to bid for nearly 1,100 bus routes the local is currently handling as a subcontractor.

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out, the local will not bid on that contract directly. 

And there's the rub.  Local 1811 bus drivers apparently want language, called Employee Protection Provisions (EPP) in the city's bid book, effectively giving a preference to the bidder offering the most experienced union drivers and matrons. 

Mayor Bloomberg, that tireless foe of organized labor, countered that no other school districts in the nation have EPP, and that the state's Court of Appeals has found such provisions illegal.

The Court of Appeals case that Bloomberg relied on is Matter of L&M Bus Corporation vs. New York City Department of Education (2011) Slip Op. 0511-4 [17 NY3d 149] Lippman, J.  (You can read it on the Court of Appeals website.)

The union countered that EPP are not illegal, and that they were put into bid books after the first school bus drivers strike decades ago to ensure that bus drivers and matrons were qualified people.

By leaving out the EPP, it said, the city is inviting bidders to bottom-line wages by hiring inexperienced people.

Bloomberg said the local had to resolve its issues with the bus companies that will bid on the city's contract, not the city.  But that's not the way the contract process works.  

Neither the bidders nor the subcontractors are allowed to write the specs -- at least not in a clean contract.

The article from CNN.

More from MSNBC.

Solidarity info:
Click here to locate Local 1811's 30 picket lines citywide;
Call Mayor Bloomberg at 1-888-833-7428 or text “Safety1st” to 877877;
For more info and to sign the bus drivers' petition visit nysaflcio.org/Safety1st.

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