School bus strike threat spurs fears

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY BEN CHAP­MAN AND JILLIAN JOR­GENSEN

Pub­lic school fam­i­lies ex­pressed fear over the threat of a yel­low bus strike on Thurs­day even as Mayor de Bla­sio sought to calm their nerves.

The city's largest school bus union voted to au­tho­rize a strike on Wed­nes­day as de Bla­sio and Schools Chan­cel­lor Richard Car­ranza strug­gled to gain con­trol over the $1.2 bil­lion sys­tem that has been en­gulfed in chaos since the start of the school year in Septem­ber.

Mem­bers of the Amal­ga­mated Tran­sit Union Lo­cal 1181 took a strike vote against both Con­sol­i­dated and Pioneer bus com­pa­nies as la­bor ne­go­ti­a­tions over col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments con­tin­ued at a strained pace.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Con­sol­i­dated and Pioneer did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. And bus com­pany ex­ecs who spoke the con­di­tion of anonymity said that they be­lieved a work stop­page was un­likely.

But pub­lic school fam­i­lies, many of whom lived through the pun­ish­ing win­ter yel­low bus strike of 2013, said the pos­si­bil­ity of a strike was scary.

“The re­ac­tion is ‘oh no,' ” said Deb­o­rah Uri, of Prospect Heights, Brook­lyn, whose son takes a bus to the Gate­way School in Man­hat­tan each day.

Uri said her son, 10, who has a dis­abil­ity, has been enduring rides of two to three hours as the fam­ily waits for a new route.

“It's very wor­ri­some,” said Uri, who's self-em­ployed. “I have no idea what par­ents would do if they had of­fices to go to and bosses to re­port to.”

City of­fi­cials sought to soothe wor­ried fam­i­lies, with de Bla­sio call­ing the strike vote a “pro­ce­dural ac­tion” at an un­re­lated press con­fer­ence Thurs­day.

“We're com­mit­ted to keep­ing the school buses run­ning, we're com­mit­ted to ad­dress­ing any is­sues with the com­pa­nies and the la­bor in­volved,” de Bla­sio said.

But he also called the threat “a re­minder that we have to stay fo­cused on these is­sues.”

One de Bla­sio ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial pointed out that the union had voted to au­tho­rize strikes in 2014 and 2016 with­out fol­low­ing through on the threats.

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