Today’s news:

Labor dispute threatens city’s school bus service

TimesLedger Newspapers

A threat to strike could leave more than 150,000 students stranded in the coming days as the city grapples with union bus drivers to agree on job security, the union leadership said this week.

The labor dispute comes on the heels of an ongoing conflict between the Amalgamated Transit Union and employers that work for the city Department of Education, with drivers demanding job security in any new bus contracts awarded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office.

ATU Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello said workers have been backed into a corner while employers try to make them settle for less than they think they deserve.

“The employers want to save the city money on the backs of our members. We will not be part of any race to the bottom,” Cordiello said. “The safety of the schoolchildren we transport, and the future of our families and our communities, depend on the wages, benefits and work rules that Local 1181 members have fought for and won over many years.”

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the possible union strike prompted precautionary measures to curb the damage that would affect more than 152,000 students — 54,000 of whom have disabilities and require special transportation arrangements.

“The union is asking for something we cannot legally deliver and is putting a central and necessary service at risk,” Walcott said. “A strike would be irresponsible and would adversely impact our students and their families who rely on bus service to get to and from school. As the city continues to take all possible precautions in advance of a potential strike, we are asking parents to make a plan in the event that busing is disrupted.”

In anticipation of a strike, Walcott announced several protocols designed to help families of students who rely on yellow bus service, making MetroCards available to students and parents and also posting crucial material covered in schools online for students to follow from home.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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