NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Veteran New York City school bus drivers and matrons took to the steps of City Hall demanding the mayor do something to help save their jobs.
Hundreds rallied Friday morning, angry that the private bus companies that employed them laid them off and replaced them with less experienced workers with lower wages.
“How dare you allow people who have a job for 25 years here not have a job with no dignity or to be thrown out of a job with no dignity at all,” said rally organizer Eddie Kay.
“If you want to hire somebody, hire us back because we’ve got the experience,” Tricia Lewis, a bus matron, told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.
Many drivers and matrons have been out of work since last school year despite Mayor Bill de Blasio allocating $42 million to keep the senior employees with their seniority pay.
“The city and City Council have to enforce these bosses,” Kay said. “Half of them are thugs in my opinion.”
Wile Norvell, a spokesperson for the mayor, said, “We worked hard to ease the burden put on workers and their families who were hurt when wages and benefits were slashed by the previous administration, but we fully recognized that some part of the workforce would be beyond our reach.”
The workers who have managed to keep their jobs say it’s left some with a lopsided pay scale.
“The drivers are making less money than the escorts,” said driver Reina Martinez. “To me, the analogy is an airplane pilot making less money than a flight attendant. That’s incredible. That’s just obscene.”
Lewis just says she simply wants to go back to work with a decent wage.
“Unemployment is not going to last forever so once unemployment runs out, where are we going to be at then? Homeless, out on the street,” she said.
CBS 2 reached out to some of the bus companies and did hear back from one, Hoyt Transportation, which said the unions should be giving them a list of all of the senior employees, otherwise they say they have no way knowing.
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