NEW YORK — A strike by New York City school bus drivers that had been threatened for weeks will start Wednesday morning, affecting 152,000 students, the president of the union representing the drivers announced Monday.
Michael Cordiello of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union said more than 8,000 bus drivers and matrons will participate in the strike, brought about by a dispute over job protections in any new bus company contracts for the bus routes. Matrons accompany the children on the bus and make sure they get on and off the bus safely.
"With its regrettable decision to strike, the union is abandoning 152,000 students and their families who rely on school bus service each day," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "As Chancellor (Dennis) Walcott and I have said, the City will take all steps available to ensure that those who are impacted have the support they need, and we are now activating the protocols we put in place in the event of a strike."
Cordiello said, "Safely transporting our children back and forth school today has, and always will be, the top priority of every man and woman who make up ATU Local 1181."
Under the city's strike contingency plans, students would receive free MetroCards for mass transit. Parents or guardians of younger children also would get the cards.
Families of special needs students would be reimbursed for private transportation. Of the 152,000 students who use the buses, 54,000 are disabled and would face extra hardships in trying to find alternative transportation.
There are 1.1 million students in the New York City schools. While the majority don't use school buses, those that do are among the youngest ones.
The city wants to cut transportation costs and has put bus contracts with private bus companies up for bid.