NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — School bus drivers and attendants at two companies serving New York City public schools voted to authorize a strike Wednesday night.
The employees of Jofaz Transportation and Y&M Transit voted to authorize the strike at a union meeting over increased health care costs and reduced holidays. A total of 85 percent voted for the strike authorization.
The strike could begin as soon as Tuesday, Nov. 1, the day after the current contract extension expires. It would involve about 900 workers and thousands of students, according to a news release.
Jofaz and Y&M are two of the largest bus companies in the city and share the same owner and union contract. They provide general and special education pupil transport in Brooklyn, Queens and staten Island.
“These are the workers that we entrust with the safety of our children, but starting wages for school bus attendants aren’t much higher than minimum wage,” Demos Demopoulos, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 553, said in the news release. “To increase the healthcare costs for these workers, many of whom are single mothers, is patently unfair. And it does not exist in any of our other contracts.”
Workers also resent that the company is planning to take away five paid holidays. The union said the company is using the city’s Paid Sick Days law, which required five paid sick days at all businesses, as an excuse.
The Department of Education expressed disappointment in the vote and said plans are already being developed in the event of a strike.
“We are disappointed with this outcome and working to swiftly address concerns of students, families and educators,” spokeswoman Devora Kaye said in a statement. “We have contingency plans in place — either a MetroCard for students and families or alternate bus service–to ensure transportation options for students. We expect this to be resolved soon with an agreement that works for employees, families and students to ensure a safe and reliable ride to school.”
<a href=”http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/01/19/report-federal-intervention-could-end-bus-strike-as-early-as-tuesday/”In January and February 2013, some 8,000 bus drivers serving city schools went on strike. The strike impacted about 152,000 public school students.