152,000 city school kids stranded as bus drivers hit picket line

Posted at 10:26 AM, Jan 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-16 10:32:54-05

NEW YORK (PIX11) – More than 8000 school bus drivers and attendants are officially on strike leaving parents to find alternative transportation for 152,00 students.

In the rain and sleet, drivers and attendants gathered outside the bus depot on Metropolitan Avenue in Queens to walk the picket line.  Marie Connolly was one of them.  We asked her why she showed up.

“To protect my job and my pension.  Thirty-eight years I’ve worked here.”  she went on to say,” I don’t want to lose my job and I don’t want to lose my pension.”

And union members say that is the issue.  The city is putting bus routes up for bid in an effort to save money that they say would ultimately go into the classroom.  But the union for bus drivers says their members deserve to be guaranteed job protection so that new contracts don’t end up being fulfilled by non union drivers.

Connolly says “There’s a lot of waste in the city.  They could handle this better.” she added ” We don’t want to see the kids have to go through this.”

The drivers say they see a scenario where they could end up working for about a third of the salary they currently receive.  Even though they work with the schools they don’t have the benefit packages city workers are accustomed to.

The city says legally they can’t offer the protections the union desires. And Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott says the strike should not be happening. ” I think it’s important to note this is a strike against our students by the union.” said Walcott.