If New York City school bus drivers go on strike before classes start Sept. 7, city officials say they’re ready.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 — which represents some 9,000 drivers across the five boroughs — says its members could walk off the job as early as next week. If it does, it would be the first citywide school bus driver strike in a decade.
“Drivers, attendants and shop employees simply cannot make ends meet,” Local 1181 president Tomas Fret told CBS News in a statement.
“The union continues to fight for what members deserve,” Local 1181 shared with its members in a June newsletter.
“When it comes to new rules New York City Schools chancellor David Banks has proposed, union officials say “these regulations must be fair, and the process should be consistent. The union continues to fight the good fight.”
Banks joined Mayor Eric Adams on Monday to present a plan in case drivers do strike — something that could affect more than 4,400 routes across the city, impacting 80,000 students.
“Ensuring our students can continue to go to school and learn every day is our top priority,” Adams said, in a release. “As we gear up for the school year and negotiations continue, we have outlined several contingency plans — as a precaution — that will provide students with emergency MetroCards, reimbursement for use of alternative transportation, and in some cases, free” ride-hailing through services like Uber and Lyft.
“As with all labor negotiations, the city encourages the parties to remain at the bargaining table until they reach a voluntary agreement,” Adams said. “We will continue to monitor the situation, engage with all stakeholders, and provide additional information to our families when we are able.”
As part of the contingency plan in case of strike, all impacted families will be eligible to receive emergency MetroCards, which will allow students to take buses and subways to school — except for express buses. They would provide a total of four trips and transfers daily between Monday and Friday, beginning at 5:30 a.m., and lasting as late as 8 p.m.
The city also will offer some reimbursement to families who resort to taxis or Ubers, or even use their own personal vehicles to get their kids to school.
The city will reimburse at 58 cents per mile, with a maximum reimbursement of $200 per day — $100 each way.
As far as Uber or Lyft is concerned, city officials plan to offer a limited reimbursement package for any student who is accompanied by a parent. For those who qualify for this assistance, the parent can then be taken to their own job — as long as it’s within the five boroughs — and even be picked up in the afternoon to get to their child’s school.
“Make no mistake: This is a labor dispute that will have deep implications for some of our most vulnerable student populations and their families,” Banks said, in a release.
“The city has consistently demonstrated good faith in its negotiations with union partners — such as the UFT and DC37. We anticipate and hope for a similar constructive approach with our bus companies and their employees.
“We are pushing for a resolution before the start of the school year to ensure every student gets the education they rightly deserve, and remain hopeful for a resolution that is fair for workers, and responsible for the city. In the meantime, we are working hard to plan for every alternative transportation service we will provide if a strike is called, and make families aware.”
Adams also shared sentiments to push all sides toward resolution in lieu of a strike.
“Let me be clear,” the mayor said. “Working families across New York City should not — and do not — have to worry about getting their children to school every day. This administration is here to help ensure our children continue their educations uninterrupted.”
Families looking to get more information on what services might be offered in case there is a strike can call the education department’s customer service unit at (718) 392-8855.