Union Following School Bus Crash: ‘Non-Union Drivers Are Not Safe’
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Striking school bus drivers were blaming non-union drivers Wednesday for a school bus crash in Bushwick, Brooklyn that left 14 people injured, including 11 children.
The accident happened at 8 a.m. Tuesday on Stanhope Street in Brooklyn, when the southbound school bus crashed into the driver’s side of a Subaru headed east on Wilson Avenue, according to a DNAInfo report.
The school bus driver and matron were not injured, but the driver of the car suffered serious injuries, the publication reported. Eleven students on the bus were also hospitalized for minor injuries, the report said.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 on Wednesday pointed out that the bus involved in the crash was operated by the non-union Fortuna Bus Company, and characterized non-union companies as a safety risk.
“This illustrates the safety issues that come up when you rely on a non-union company,” Local 1181 shop steward Robin Benedetto said in a news release. “Union drivers are safe. Non-union drivers are not safe.”
The union also took New York City to task for opening a competitive bidding process that could bring in more non-union drivers.
The crash happened the same day Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened up bids to pick the most competitive bus companies. The goal is to cut the costs of busing about 150,000 students to school, which have risen from $100 million in 1979 to $1.1 billion today.
Michael Cordiello of Local 1181 said the drivers would strike until Mayor Bloomberg and the city agree to put a job security clause back into their contract. The union demanded that job security provisions be part of a competitive bidding process.
But the city has insisted that any such move would be illegal. Some bus companies have also filed a lawsuit seeking to make the drivers’ current job security provisions illegal.
But New York City received 67 bids by school bus companies as it opened competitive bidding for new contracts Monday, the Department of Education confirmed.
The city estimated that as of Friday, the school bus drivers’ strike had cost $19.2 million. The city said it has had to spend money on student MetroCards and reimbursements ever since the strike began.
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