More than 1,000 striking school bus drivers and matrons marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to rally in City Hall Park on Sunday afternoon, to demand that the Bloomberg administration become involved in their nearly four-week-long struggle for job protections. Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 first hit the picket lines on January 16, calling for Employee Protection Provisions (EPPs) in contracts made in any new labor deals.
City officials, including Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, say it is illegal to offer job protections in contracts and said that bus employees need to negotiate with the private companies that hire them.
However, the union employees said as long as Mayor Michael Bloomberg refuses to negotiate, tens of thousands of city families are enduring the effects of the strike.
“We’re here today for our job protection, our job security. This is what we need,” said a member of ATU Local 1181. “We’ve been having it for 33 years. We need this. If not, we won’t have a job.”
“It’s the mayor’s fault. We’re ready to go back to work tomorrow morning. That’s the main thing, is us going back to work and the safety for the kids,” said another union member.
“Any city leader that is a leader would come to try to end something and to bring people together to negotiate, not just turn his head and walk away and say, ‘Well, it’s just not my problem.’ It is your problem,” said a third demonstrator.
On February 1, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the strike is lawful, and that the city is one of the bus employees’ primary employers, along with the bus companies.