NEW YORK (CBS 2) –– Forced to work on Thanksgiving? A school bus fight in New Jersey is pitting drivers against parents.

CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis talked with some drivers who said they would rather give up their jobs than their holiday.

School bus drivers in Lakewood, finishing their rounds, say “no thanks” to some holiday humbug which involves working on Thanksgiving.

“Who’s gonna work on Thanksgiving? I’m not,” bus driver Bill Fitzgerald said.

Drivers were sounding off over a state law that says “transportation must be provided even when only non-public schools are in session” — including on Thanksgiving.

“You should be home on certain holidays, and that’s one of them,” said another bus driver.

But private Jewish schools, where Abe Greenwald’s two boys are enrolled, have class on the holiday, and need their buses.

“Yeah, I think it saves a lot of time because when there’s no busing it takes longer for everything to happen,” said Betezalel Greenwald.

“You have to carpool, then it’s dangerous for the kids getting in and out,” added Abe Greenwald.

What’s unique about Lakewood is that for a district of 24,000 students, only about 5,000 go to public school. The rest, mostly Jewish, go to private school and Thanksgiving is not a district holiday. So, students need busing.

“What it means is an unfortunate situation,” said Lakewood Schools Attorney Michael Inzelbuch.

Inzelbuch, who is Jewish, said the district’s hands became tied this year, after a parent wrote the state asking why buses were parked and empty last Memorial Day. Was it illegal?

Inzelbuch answered “yes.”

So bus drivers will now go to work, along with mechanics like Brian Weir, giving up his Thanksgiving as well.

“If you gotta work on Thanksgiving, you gotta work. That’s how I feel about it,” Weir said.

School officials said there are some schools that have declined bus service for the holiday, choosing to give their bus drivers a break.

What do you think of the situation?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

Comments (12)
  1. Busdriver says:

    I was once a school bus driver for a private Jewish School here in NJ. I have never heard of any of the children in NJ going to school on Thanksgiving. I had off of school for every major holiday, both Christian and Jewish.

    To clear something up; Thanksgiving has always been considered a Federal Holiday. Working for a bus company in the past, New Years, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thankgiving, and Christmas were considered the major holidays in this country. These were the holidays that drivers have alway been told would be the day off. It did not matter if the holiday fell Monday through Frieday. Our bus company manager fought one year when a day camp in the summer accidently included the 4th of July as a pick up and drop off. The problem was 80& of the children did not attend camp that day, but we had a few scattered children on the bus.

    I do not care if a person is Jewish or Christian, Federal Holidays are the most important holidays. Religion is not supposed to be apart of our government. I feel this is very wrong and I feel Lakewood should be a shame of themselves for forcing people to drive on a Federal Holiday. Unless the governement no longer cares about the holidays some of us were raised with.

    There happens to be more knowledge for employees working in the department stores, fast food places, and restaurants are known to have employees work on holidays especially over the past fifteen to twenty years.

    I fully feel this is an injustice to the busdrivers. Private schools may be entitled to bus transportation, but remember the state does pay a certain amount of the fee that property taxes do not pay. I feel this whole situation is sad, and if Jewish people celebrate Thankgiving why wouldn’t they give the children off.

    I am Jewish, some of my friends are and some aren’t, I disagree with the outcome and feel Thanksgiving has always been seen a Federal Holiday not a Holiday of Choice. Thanksgiving is about celebrating the Indians and Colonist who worked together and sat for a meal, the beginning of America and our culture as an American. There was no such thing as a religious reason or non reason to celebrate the holiday.

    I am very saddened for the busdriver’s who will not get time and a half for driving, I feel bad for the fact the drivers are losing the four day holiday.

    One final comment, busdrivers do not recieve overtime or holiday pay, unless they worked over 40 hours a week, so these drivers will recieve their regular wage and lose out on a four day weekend. My understanding is the bus companies involved are private, they do not recieve the same benefits that township employees recieve or state employees.

    Think about the fact how unfair this is for the drivers, They only recieve 6 holiday’s off a year and do not get paid for them. If they do, it is a regular wage, not time and a half or holiday pay.

    Best wishes to the drivers, I am so sorry that our country history of making Thankgiving a Legal Federal Holiday no longer applies to you. I am sorry that Private Schools have to so much control in Lakewood. I live in Middlesex County and every Orthodox, Conservative, Reform denomination of Jedaism private schools are closed and there is no issue of bus transportation. I feel sad for all of you

  2. Gary E says:

    It’s amazing as an Americans that we’re always asked to give up our holidays or other rights that we’ve fought for over two hundred years for ( Christmas now winter break , Easter now spring break , free speech only if your of foriegn birth ‘ And if you speak out about it as an AMERICAN your eather Raciest Anti-samatic or some other name that fits thier point of view ). When a certain group wants to have their holiday we as Americans bend over backward to let them have it but now when it comes to our holiday another one is taken away Then the powers to be wonder why hatered starts to come into the picture As an American that served this country and now my youngest serving overseas it’s about time that we stop this bulls–t If you want your holiday fine but stop stepping on mine and other fellow American toes by thinking it’s good for you but not us If you don’t want to enjoy with us what made this country great fine but stop trying to tell us we can’t And if my way of thinking annoys you and you feel that calling me a name or labeling me makes you feel good go ahead I’ve got big shoulders I can take it You want equality and fare treatment then learned to give the same or don’t start crying when people start treating for what you are HYPOCRITES

  3. Zev says:

    I’m an Orthodox Jew living in Lakewood and I’m upset about the drivers being forced to work on Thanksgiving. This is a family holiday, observed nationally, and they should be watching football and eating turkey with their families. The Jewish community here has managed for decades without bussing on Thanksgiving, and guess what? There have been no fatalities to date! The parent who wrote to the state should be ashamed of himself.

  4. David Fault says:

    If you read the Jewish blgs, you’d find that it’s not the parents who are asking for th busing; it’s a few school administrators that are. Overwhelmingly, th eJewish parents think this is wrong.
    This article perpetrates an anti-Jewish attitude. I hope we are dealing with ignorance and not malice.

  5. Shawn says:

    There are many people who have to work on Thanksgiving. If the bus drivers knew they would have to work on Thanksgiving when they were hired or chose to stay after the law was passed then they have not one iota of a complaint. There are service men and women who aren’t even in this country for the holiday and they do their jobs without complaint. At least the bus drivers will have Turkey with their families, so what if the time may be incontinent.

  6. TDS says:

    The solution is simple: get the Jews to close for Thanksgiving.

    Either that, or change the law. There is no excuse for this.

  7. Joey says:

    To 408am (Saitine)
    Let me start off by saying I’m not Jewish. What you write is mostly hatred and lies.
    Fact one over 75 percent of the local taxes are paid by the Jewish residents.
    Fact 2 no rabbis sign Birth certificates.
    Fact 3 the handful of children that do go to israel are over 18 and not eligible for food stamps anyway
    Fact 4 as someone who get around for various reasond I have been in the WIC ,food Stamps and Medicaid office and have not seen even 1 Jewish employee.
    Fact 5 there thousands of families inlakewood that are not on any social services.
    So please stop your venom and please try to love every human being for who they are. It will make the world a better place to live for all of us.

  8. Joey says:

    To Number 1 Saitine

    First let start by saying I’m not Jewish. What you write is pure hatered and Lies. 75 pe

  9. Saltine says:

    That’s right!!! They all go on Food Stamps, medicaid and Welfare and any other tax-payer funded Social Welfare Program; yet want nothing at all to do with an AMERICAN holiday.

    They all pay the same amount in rent to the same rabbi, get paid the same $433.33 to ensure the MAXIMUM in Food Benefits, get paid BY this same rabbi and have all of their inbred children’s birth certificates signed by this same pedophilic rabbi.

    Everything they do is a SCAM on the American tax payers. Everything!

    They drive Lexuses with OHIO plates and say they “commute” from there.

    They run to Israel when caught molesting little boys. They send their inbred sons to Israel and conveniently forget to take them off the Food Stamp cases.

    They sends “reps” to apply//re-apply for Welfare//Medicaid for them as they can’t be bothered going in person–They don’t like Black people–That is what they say!!!! Racist, Misogynist, Backward, Inbred f**kers!!!!

    Family works in Social Services–sees this ALL THE TIME!!!!

    They try to prevent normal Jewish, Christian, whatever residents of Lakewood from walking down their streets–Heaven forbid their sexually repressed men-children should see a girl in shorts and get a “feeling”.

    Ever wonder why every other house in Lakewood is now a Shul????????? Tax write-offs!!!!!!!!

  10. ted says:

    School bus drivers are paid next to nothing and now expected to work Thanksgiving – pathetic. The contracts should be rewritten and the drivers should be paid double time and a half for that day. If their holiday is taken away, they should at least be given some sort of compensation.

  11. flea says:

    the bus drivers, instead of texting while they’re driving, can slobber on a turkey leg and cranberry sauce.

  12. bluebelle says:

    For heaven’s sake…it’s THANKSGIVING…a Federal holiday!!! The bus drivers and mechanics should be home enjoying the holiday. Is it really that difficult to drive your children to school for ONE day? As to the father stating that it’s dangerous to carpool with children getting in and out, i say mind your children and watch over them just as any good parent does. If they’re in your care then they are your responsibility, is it really that hard?

    Let’s not be Scrooges here people….

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