Today’s news:

Contract deal stops another boro bus strike

Three Queens bus companies struck a tentative contract deal with their union late Tuesday night, averting yet another threatened strike while passing the buck onto the city to satisfy the workers’ remaining demands.

Drivers and mechanics at Queens Surface Corp., Triboro Coach and Jamaica Buses had already walked off the job twice and were planning to strike again when Tuesday’s agreement was reached only hours before the midnight deadline.

At issue were questions of job and pension security.

“I am pleased that both sides in the threatened bus strike have reached an agreement and that the citizens of New York City will have their bus on Wednesday morning,” said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in a press release faxed out when news of the settlement broke.

But the deal also hinges on the City Council protecting the workers’ jobs and pension benefits when the companies’ contracts with the city go out to bid.

Avella, chairman of the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, had presided over hearings earlier this month to resolve the longstanding contract dispute, for which negotiations have been ongoing for more than 18 months. The bus companies’ employees have been working without a contract for more than a year.

With the city’s bus franchise contracts going up for bid, the union has been demanding that the city protect its employees’ jobs and pension benefits in the event the contracts are awarded to different companies.

Leaders of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents employees at the private lines, have periodically threatened to walk out since late December. A wildcat strike that was spontaneously staged by workers in January without union sanction ended hours after it began, but another strike called by the union at the end of February lasted for two days.

The three companies carry a combined load of 115,000 passengers every day, with many commuters relying on their express bus service to get into Manhattan from various points in Queens.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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