The first New York City bus driver strike in more than 30 years began Wednesday, leaving the 152,000 kids who ride the bus with a messy morning commute.
Though many of the city's 1.1 million students walk or take public transportation, those who ride the bus — 54,000 of them special-needs kids — were left to hail cabs, carpool or take the subway.
The bus drivers, part of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, refuse to return to work until Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city agree to put a job security clause back into their contract.
"I came to urge the mayor to resolve this strike," said Michael Cordiello, president of Local 1181, during a news conference Wednesday. "It is within his power to do so."
The issues surrounding the strike are more complicated than one clause in a contract. It's also an issue of controlling spending.
The city has put its contracts with private bus companies up for bid, aiming to cut student transportation costs, which Bloomberg claims have ballooned to $1.1 billion. Local 1181 says drivers could suddenly lose their jobs when contracts expire June 30.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told The Associated Press that the strike started at 6 a.m. Wednesday with about 200 bus drivers and bus matrons assembled on picket lines in Queens.
Prior to the start of the strike, which was announced Monday, the city made preparations to help families, including providing MetroCards and working out a system to reimburse those who used other means of transportation, according to the New York Times. Bloomberg said the city had no plans at the moment to go to court to seek an injunction to force the drivers back to work.
Not all bus routes in the city are served by the striking union, the city Department of Education told the AP, adding that approximately 3,000 bus routes out of 7,700 total were running.
The last strike by New York City bus drivers was in 1979 and last 13 weeks.
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