Monday, January 7, 2013

Carin Van Der Donk speaks at Busing rally

NEW YORK—School bus drivers could strike any day over what they call unfair changes to contracts.
“[City officials] want us to take a cut in pay, and just get paid per hour what we work,” said Vincent Dassisi, 62, a driver for 39 years. The company he works for has been telling drivers they’ll have to work for less or get fired.
Typical top pay for drivers is $48,000 a year ($29 an hour with benefits). But the upcoming change in some of the contracts could include a shift from salary to hourly pay, said Dassasi. He’s seen an advertisement looking for bus drivers for $20 a day.

Carin van der Donk, founder of Common Sense Busing and parent to a special needs child, speaks at a rally held by school bus drivers and parents, calling on city officials to take action so bus drivers don't strike. van der Donk is concerned that replacement bus drivers won't be able to accommodate special needs children. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

In the event of a strike, NYCDOE has prepared alternative choices of transportation for students who usually take the bus:
- Get a MetroCard through their school.
- For grades K-6 only, parents can drive their kids to school and get reimbursed $0.55 per mile or all costs for taxi and car service.
- Use online materials that will be posted if a strike happens for children that cannot get to school.
The department will keep its website updated about the potential strike.

The debate over whether to include the Employee Protection Provision in the new bids stems from a court ruling over busing pre-K students, which is a separate system from K-12.

A judge ruled in June 2011 against an attempt to introduce the seniority provision into the pre-K system. Now, the K-12 provisions protecting seniority, introduced in 1979, are being taken out of the K-12 contracts through the interpretation that the 2011 ruling applies industry-wide.
But Richard Brook, attorney for the driver’s union, said that the court decision was for the pre-K bids only. “That was different, a different set of circumstances.”

A principal allegation from the union and drivers is that new contracts will, by not favoring seniority, endanger children by opening the door to inexperienced drivers.
But department officials said they are also concerned about safety. Eric Goldstein, CEO of School Support Services, said stringent standards from the old contracts, such as background checks and training, are included in the new contracts.

via The Epoch Times, 1.7.13
Additional reporting by Benjamin Chasteen

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1 comment:

sixtwosue said...

It's a very complicated issue, as are all that involve unions, it seems. On one hand, good school bus drivers are like gold, and expecting them to live in the NYC metro area on tops of $48K/year seems ridiculous. On the other, the NYT story said that the city has the most expensive per pupil busing cost in the country, more than double that of L.A. There is no earthly reason why those drivers are earning so little yet it costs so much per pupil, other than some serious siphoning going on by fat-cat bureaucrats. As usual, it's the hard workers who get hosed, as well as the kids they drive.

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