Tensions run high as school bus drivers on strike get replaced

Posted at 9:17 AM, Jan 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-29 11:17:19-05

NEW YORK (PIX11) – Tensions reached the boiling point Tuesday morning as striking school bus drivers and their replacements went head to head on Staten Island.

Battle lines were drawn before dawn with strikers lined up behind barricades on both sides of the entrance to the Atlantic Express bus depot on Meredith Road. Strikers shouted “Scabs, scabs, scabs” at replacement workers as they entered the lot and drove out in yellow school buses.

The school bus strike began nearly 3 weeks ago but Tuesday for the first time some buses from the Staten Island depot ran with replacement drivers and matrons. The bus companies say replacements finished their training Tuesday.  The  union is not happy with them working their member’s jobs or the way the city has handled the strike.

Shop Steward Earnest Maino told PIX 11 News “They are putting unqualified people on these buses today to take these kids to school.”  he added  “Bottom line is they are not qualified.”  Maino went on to say, ” He put on these drivers just to get his buses rolling and these drivers will be personally responsible  for anything that happens to these kids on the buses.”

All of this comes a day after the union for  the drivers and representatives from the bus companies met at Gracie Mansion.  The only thing they agreed on was that the mayor needed to be a part of  the negotiations.

The union went on strike January 16th seeking to get employee protection provisions in any new contacts the city signs for bus routes.  The city is putting routes up for bid in an effort to save money and says the protections have been ruled illegal. The union disagrees.