Children Injured in Accident by School Bus without Employee Protection Provision (EPP)

Bushwick, N.Y. – Fourteen injured, including children, Bushwick yesterday in a school bus accident, as reported by DNAinfo.com, leading Ben Kallos, candidate for the City Council on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, to call for an immediate “cooling off period” by suspending the acceptance of bids followed by the mandatory inclusion of the EPP for all bidding on the City's school bus contracts.

“Our children's safety is more important than dollars and cents on Bloomberg's budget line,” Kallos said. “The City cannot use our children as a bargaining chip.”

PHOTO CREDIT: BMR Breaking News/Roy Renna

Kallos joined striking drivers, matrons, and mechanics this past Sunday in marching across the Brooklyn Bridge.“I’m a labor lawyer, a union-side labor lawyer, but I don’t need a law degree to see the EPP isn’t illegal,” he told a crowd of over 7,000 members of over a dozen local unions gathered in front of City Hall. You can watch his short remarks at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1w2yvtppMA. 

According to a survey of registered voters in all five boroughs obtained by the campaign “the more voters learn more about the implications of what the Mayor is proposing -- including hearing arguments on both sides of the issue -- the larger is the majority opposing the Mayor’s plan.”

Including the following specific survey results:

  • When the Mollen Agreement is described to them, New Yorkers indicated they support the maintenance of the present Mollen arrangement by a strong 31-point, 50-19 percent margin, while 29 percent aren’t sure.
  • A plurality of voters in all boroughs -- as well as persons both with and without children in the school system -- supported the maintenance of the present system.
  • The only group of voters who thought the present arrangement was not a good idea were self- identified Republicans, who thought it was not a good idea by a 22-50 percent margin. (Self- identified Republicans comprise slightly less than 20 percent of the city’s electorate.)
  • The considerably larger group of self-identified Democrats in this heavily Democratic city think the Mollen Agreement is a good idea by a greater than five-to-one, 64-12 percent margin.
  • Self-identified Independents, a somewhat more modest portion of the New York City electorate, also think the Agreement is a good idea...by a strong 49-9 percent margin, with the remainder “not sure.”
  • When Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to get rid of the agreement was tested, it was opposed by a virtual reciprocal of its very weak initial support levels – even when the Mayor’s avowed rationale (“costing the city too much money”) was inserted in the framing of the query.
  • When asked: “Recently, Mayor Bloomberg and his Administration have challenged this agreement. They have decided that the provisions ensuring the job and wage protections for veteran school bus drivers, mechanics and the matrons who accompany special-needs children are costing the city too much...and it is time to get rid of this Agreement and allow bus companies competing for school bus contracts to hire whoever they want to drive and service our city’s school buses. Do you think Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to scrap this long-term agreement is a good or bad idea?” Registered voters in New York rejected Mayor Bloomberg’s suggestion to scrap the agreement by an equally large 31-point, 53- 22 percent margin.

Bus drivers, matrons, and mechanics who are members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 1181, have been on strike since January 16, protesting the Bloomberg administration’s announcement that it would not include Employment Protection Provisions (EPP) in new bus contracts. ATU 1181 offered the City a “cooling off period” to delay the acceptance of bids and allow both sides to come back to the table and negotiate, but Mayor Bloomberg declined.

The ATU 1181 bus routes, which include both general education and special education, are currently being operated by existing operators who do not have an EPP or by newly hired private contractors who do not have the training and experience of union drivers and matrons.

On February 1, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that the drivers were not breaking the law by striking and demanding the inclusion of the EPP.