School busNew York City ? Michael Cordiello, President of ATU Local 1181, issued the following statement today about the ongoing school bus drivers? and matrons? strike. Members of Local 1181 have been on strike since Wednesday, January 16 in protest of the City?s most recent special education contract bid, which fails to protect both special education students, and the City?s most experienced and safe drivers and matrons.

?On Wednesday, along with the ATU International President Larry Hanley, and New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, I sat down with Mayor Bloomberg and conveyed to him the importance of a fair and just resolution to this strike. I explained that we want our dedicated, hardworking members and the kids of New York City back onto the buses where they belong as soon as possible.

?We told the Mayor that our members all come from modest means, and the Employee Protection Provision (EPP) we are fighting for is extremely important in providing the job security needed to ensure that our children are being cared for by the most experienced and safe drivers and matrons. For almost half a century, the EPP has succeeded in creating one of the safest and professional workforces in the nation.

?During our meeting we urged the Mayor to help us find a way to resolve this dispute, as we have been asking for the last several months, and like his predecessors before him have for the last 50 years. To that end, Mayor Bloomberg suggested that Local 1181 and bus companies enter into mediation immediately, under the auspices of the Mayor. ATU Local 1181 is prepared to meet this afternoon.

?Unfortunately, bus company owners continue to drag their feet, refusing to meet with Local 1181 until next week. With temperatures in the teens and our city?s children and their parents continuing to struggle to find ways to cope with this work stoppage, now is not the time to take the weekend off. This is time that should be spent trying to end this strike.

?As I have said from the beginning, the best way for this strike to end is with Local 1181, Mayor Bloomberg and the City?s bus companies in one room, talking candidly and in good faith. We urge Mayor Bloomberg to join us at the table to work towards ending this strike.

Until that happens, the strike goes on.?

Concerns over City budget proposals (YWG)

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Time is of the essence and a solid response for organized labour,?> community groups, and citizens is required. On January 9th, 2013, the?> City of Winnipeg simultaneously released its 2013 Operating Budget and?> 2013 Capital Budget. In previous years, these had been released at?> separate times (Capital Budget earlier than Operating Budget) to allow?> for a sufficient amount of time for public input. City Council will?> be voting on the budget on Tuesday, January 29th>?Why do we need to defeat this budget? Here is what’s included:>

* $13.6 million in Vacancy Management. The city is estimating it
> can save this amount by refusing fill vacant positions and eliminating
> certain positions all together. This means less civic services
> available to the public.
>?* O dollars for improved transit security. Early in 2012, The
> Winnipeg Labour Council and Amalgamated Transit Union local 1505
> revealed that transit workers had experienced a 300% increase in the
> number of assaults since 2007. Despite this increased risk to
> passengers and transit workers, the city has refused to invest any
> operational funding into increased security measures
>?* $300,000 committed to accelerating the Alternate Service Delivery
> (ASD) review and implementation process. ASD is a euphemism for
> outsourcing, contracting out, and privatizing city services. The city
> used this process for the outsourcing of the ill-fated solid waste
> collection currently being undertaken by Emterra. The ASD committee
> wants to use these funds to outsource custodial work for the City of
> Winnipeg and contract out the management of the city’s golf courses
>?* Cuts to public grants for museums. This amounts to 5% cut to the
> following museums:
> -$22,500 cut to the St. Boniface Museum
> -$6,000 cut to the Manitoba Children’s Museum
> -$7,750 cut to the Transcona Historical Museum
> -$1,411 cut to the Seven Oaks House Museum
> -$1,554 cut to the Ross House Museum
> -$2,750 cut to the Western Canada Aviation Museum
>?* Cuts to United Way of Winnipeg:
> -$40,000 cut to the ‘Peg’ Community Indicators System which monitors
> Winnipeg’s well-being in eight different areas: basic needs, health,
> education and learning, social vitality, governance, built
> environment, economy, and natural environment. It also looks at poverty indicators.
> This is a 100% funding cut.
> -$45,000 cut to the Poverty Reduction Strategy on eliminating poverty
> in Winnipeg. This is a 100% funding cut.
>?If these cuts weren’t bad enough, the City’s Operating Budget also
> proposes a 50% increase in councilors ward allowance giving each
> councilor an additional $40,000/year for a total of $600,000.
> Councilors who support this increase claim the money will be used for
> staff and discretionary spending however this is nothing more than a
> smoke screen. These tax dollars will be used by councilors to promote
> themselves in 2013 and 2014 right before the 2014 civic election.
>?Finally, Mayor Sam Katz has called for $722,000 to be used to fund the
> Executive Policy Committee Secretariat. Basically this is a cash
> infusion to create political staff for the mayor. This is another
> attempt to use taxpayer dollars to promote the mayor and his ideas
> leading into the 2014 civic election
>?This budget calls for a determined response from organized labour.
> The budget is cutting millions from services Winnipeggers depend upon.
> It is seeking to use public money to investigate outsourcing and
> contracting out of city services. It is refusing to address the dire
> security situation on Winnipeg Transit buses and allow passengers and
> transit operators to experience greater threats to their well-being.
> It is gutting funding grants for museums which are there to tell our
> history to the world. It is cutting $85,000 from United Way
> initiatives set up to address poverty in Winnipeg.
>?Why are these cuts being undertaken? So councilors and the mayor have
> additional funds to promote themselves. Shame on this city council
> for gutting our services, refusing to provide transit safety, and
> refusing to address poverty.
>?Please contact your city councilor and tell them programs and services
> are more important than shameless self-promotion. Contact information
> for you councilor can be found below.
>?in solidarity,
>?brother Dave Sauer,
> Winnipeg Labour Council
>?City of Winnipeg contacts
>?Jeff Browaty
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5196
> Fax: 204-986-3725
>?Ross Eadie
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5188
> Fax: 204-986-3726
>?Scott Fielding
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5848
>?Fax: 204-986-4320
>?Jenny Gerbasi
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5878
> Fax: 204-986-5636
>?Paula Havixbeck
>?E-mail: <>
> Phone: 204-986-5232
> Fax: 204-949-0566
>?Grant Nordman
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5920
> Fax: 204-986-7359
>?John Orlikow
>?E-mail: <>
> Phone: 204-986-5236
> Fax: 204-986-3725
>?Mike Pagtakhan
>?E-mail: <>
> Phone: 204-986-8401
> Fax: 204-986-3531
>?Devi Sharma
>?E-mail: <>
> Phone: 204-986-5264
> Fax: 204-986-7806
>?Harvey Smith
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5951
> Fax: 204-986-7000
>?Thomas Steen
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5195
> Fax: 204-986-3725
>?Brian Mayes
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5088
>?Fax: 204-947-3725
>?Justin Swandel
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-6824
>?Fax: 204-986-3725
>?Dan Vandal
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-5206
>?Fax: 204-986-3725
>?Russ Wyatt
>?E-mail: <>
>?Phone: 204-986-8087
>?Fax: 204-949-4530
>?Robert Sawatsky
>?Financial Secretary Treasurer
>?Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505
>?401 – 275 Broadway
>?Wpg, MB. R3C 4M6
>?Office (204) 943-5064
>?Fax (204) 943-5078

Letter from a school bus driver

25 January 2013

The WSWS received the following letter in response to ?Why the New York Times backs Bloomberg?s assault on school bus drivers?

I am a single mother and a NYC school bus driver for 13 years. I am?sofrustrated that the news is not reporting the workers? side of the story. I will try to keep this as short as possible with the facts from our side.

1. Mayor Doomberg said, and I quote, ?We are not employing these bus drivers. They?re employed by private companies.? Ok, but?who?hires the contractors to do the NYC BOE [Board of Education] runs? The City! So I?m confused, if the Board of Ed is run by the City and the BOE has the authority for hiring/firing, certifying/decertifying all drivers/matrons, then why doesn?t the City have the authority to negotiate putting the EPP [Employee Protection Provision] in our contract? We go to them to get fingerprinted, background checks, to get our photo ID card and for hearings. Meaning they are inhighest?control of us being hired/fired from our jobs. So how can someone have the authority to take away our jobs but at the same time have nothing to do with us?

2. We don?t get paid 52 weeks a year. We?only?work 40 weeks out of the year and the other 12 weeks we receive unemployment, the summer is already hard on all of us but this is what we signed up for. But knowing we had job protection!

3. We?do not?receive personal days or sick days. So if we do get sick and are not able to go to work we?do not?get paid.

4. We are all fingerprinted, have background checks, are?all?Board of Ed certified, we take at least eight different safety classes per year, we are required to take random drug tests, plus matrons are all CPR & First Aid certified. With all that we have to do?we?deserve to keep our jobs, keep making a living and?keep the children safe with our experience!

5. As of January 31st we will no longer have health insurance! All needed medications for a lot of us will be denied and?that is dangerous!

6. If you think about it, all the employees who will be out of work will need city, state and federal assistance which could and/or would include ? unemployment, food stamps, welfare, Medicaid and, for some, housing. For the ones who live in public housing now paying higher rent, their rent could go down to $50-$100 a month and that?s less money into NYC. Now to me this sounds like a?lot?of money to be dishing out to?thousands?of people. So I am a little confused on how he is trying to budget the taxpayers? money and our lives!?We are taxpayers!

7. He claims he cares about the children but he doesn?t even know them,?we do! We spend five days a week with them and we come to care about them.

8. We drive the children to school during blizzards, hurricanes, Nor?easters, the worst of conditions. Do you think someone with less experience or making minimum wage is going to go out and risk their lives driving in these conditions? I don?t think so!

9. Bloomberg always quotes that it costs $6,900 per child to bus compared to California that only costs $3,100. But I?m sure California does not pay the bus contractors for the matrons, the gasoline and the insurance on the buses! This is why the BOE of NY pays so much, they are paying the contractors for all of this! So the money is being spent on all of that,?not our salaries!?This egotistical billionaire is destroying the NYC public school education and he is out of control!

Laura Angelo, bus driver

Bath bus driver praised for staying with passengers

A woman stranded on a bus which was stuck in a blizzard in Bath has praised the ‘hero’ driver who refused to abandon her.

Izzy Robinson caught the 17:10 GMT First bus from the city centre, expecting to arrive home in Midsomer Norton about half an hour later.

Instead she was on the bus for more than six hours after it became stuck in gridlocked traffic.

Izzy Robinson was stuck on the bus for about six hours in the snow

Izzy Robinson was stuck on the bus for about six hours in the snow

“You don’t often meet good people but he was amazing,” said Ms Robinson.

The driver of the No 173 was Mike Tovey from Wells.

He said: “I feel really proud that Izzy thinks I did such good work looking after her and all of the other passengers, but I was just doing my job and I am sure that anyone would have done the same.”

‘Chocolate brownies’

The problems started when snow began falling thickly across Bath during rush hour.

Ms Robinson said: “It was unbelievable – people were walking from Odd Down Park-and-Ride to Peasedown but it was too dangerous for me and I had nowhere to go so I stayed on the bus.

“The driver told us a bendy bus had slid on ice by the Red Lion and ended up down a hole in roadworks.”

Ms Robinson said at that point there were three other adults and two children on the bus.

She added: “Then a lady came with food.

“She said she’d seen what had happened and brought us sandwiches, chocolate brownies and bottles of water.

‘Quite privileged’

“While we were talking to the driver about what we could do to get home we found out he’d been on duty since six that morning.”

Police arrived later and took a woman and two children off the bus to drive them home leaving Ms Robinson and two others with the driver.

She said: “He told us to get off our bus and onto the double-decker as it was warmer while we waited for help.

“He said he wouldn’t go anywhere until all of us were safely taken home.”

The police returned and offered the remaining passengers a lift home which they at first refused as there was no space for the bus driver.

The officers reassured them they would go back for him and they were taken home.

“He was truly lovely and his calmness, patience and professionalism is a credit to the company,” said Ms Robinson.

“I feel quite privileged to have met him. He was a hero and I gave him a big hug.”

Richard Lewis First’s Business Manager for Bath said: “I am delighted to hear that such heartfelt praise has been given to one of our drivers, many of whom take huge pride in their work and go above and beyond the call of duty for members of the public every day.”

Pedestrian charged after running into path of public bus

Pedestrian, Saskatoon city transit bus collide downtown

A pedestrian has been charged after a collision with a city transit bus in Saskatoon.

Just after 9 p.m. on Thursday night, Saskatoon police were called to the intersection of 1st Avenue and 23rd Street.

A 56-year-old man had tried to cross the street despite having a red light and ran into the path of a city bus.

The bus driver tried to stop to avoid hitting the man but winter road conditions caused the bus to slide, hitting the man.

The man was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He was charged with entering an intersection against a red light.

Saskatoon bus


Parents, families and New York City school children have come forward to voice their support for the striking school bus drivers and matrons.

“As the parents and guardians of NYC school children, we support the school bus union members who, to protect their careers, have been forced to strike by the mayor and the DOE,” said Sara Catalinotto of Parents to Improve School Transportation (PIST).

School bus drivers go on strike in New York City

  • Peter Curry, center, unloads his daughter's wheel chair from his car after driving her to Public School 33, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 in New York. She would normally be driven by school bus, according to her father. More than 8,000 New York City school bus drivers and aides went on strike over job protection Wednesday morning, leaving some 152,000 students, many disabled, trying to find other ways to get to school. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    Associated Press/Mark Lennihan – Peter Curry, center, unloads his daughter’s wheel chair from his car after driving her to Public School 33, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 in New York.?

NEW YORK (AP) ? Tens of thousands of New York City children who usually ride?school buses?took subways, taxis and private cars to school Wednesday as more than 8,000?bus drivers?and aides went on strike to keep their jobs.

“I love my job and I don’t want to be looking for another one,” said bus driver Robert Behrens, who manned a picket line in Queens.

Mayor?Michael Bloomberg?said police were called after some strikers blocked gates to keep buses from leaving and warned, “We won’t permit that kind of reprehensible conduct.”

Union head?Michael Cordiello?said the drivers will strike untilBloomberg?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 Cordiello, president of Local 1181 of the?Amalgamated Transit Union. “It is within his power to do so.”

But Bloomberg said the strike “is about job guarantees that the union just can’t have.”

After the union announced a strike Monday, city officials said they would hand out transit passes to students who can get to school on subways and city buses and reimburse parents who must take taxis or drive private cars.

Peter Curry’s 7-year-old daughter, Maisy, is in a wheelchair and is usually picked up by a bus with a mechanical lift. On Wednesday, he drove her from lower Manhattan to her school in the Chelsea neighborhood.

“It means transferring her to the car, breaking down the wheelchair, getting here, setting up the wheelchair, transferring her from the car, when normally she would just wheel right into the school bus,” Curry said. “She’s on oxygen. There’s a lot of equipment that has to be moved and transferred also.”

On Staten Island, Tangaline Whiten was more than 45 minutes late delivering her second-grade son to?Staten Island Community Charter School, after first dropping off her daughter at Public School 60 about six miles away.

She said the distance and the extra traffic on the road made the prospect of a long strike upsetting, because it means her son would be consistently late. If the strike lasts, she said she’ll consider carpooling.

“Most of the parents where I’m at are working parents, so they’re finding it difficult to transport their kids, and especially to pick them up,” Whiten said. “I’m just fortunate that I’m a stay-at-home mom.”

Wednesday’s walkout was by the largest bus drivers’ union; some?bus routes?served by other unions were operating. The city Department of Education said approximately 3,000 bus routes out of a total of 7,700 were running.

Most of the city’s roughly 1.1 million public school students take public transportation or walk to school.

Those who rely on the buses include 54,000 special education students and others who live far from schools or transportation. They also include students who attend specialized school programs outside of their neighborhoods.

The city has put its contracts with private bus companies up for bid, aiming to cut costs. Local 1181 says drivers could suddenly lose their jobs when contracts expire in June.

Seeking a speedy end to the strike, a consortium of 20 bus companies filed two complaints with the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday accusing the union of waging an unlawful?secondary strike?and of not bargaining in good faith.

“We are asking the NLRB for an immediate ruling,” said Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for the bus companies.

James Paulsen, director of the NLRB’s Brooklyn office, said the board is reviewing the complaints.

He said that if the NLRB finds that the union is pursuing an unlawful secondary strike, it will seek a federal injunction to halt the labor action.

The city doesn’t directly hire the bus drivers and matrons, who work for private companies that have city contracts. The workers make an average of about $35,000 a year, with a driver starting at $14 an hour and potentially making as much as $29 an hour over time, according to Cordiello.

Bloomberg has said the city must seek competitive bids to save money.

The union sought job protections for current drivers in the new contracts. The city said that the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has barred it from including such provisions because of competitive bidding laws; the union said that’s not so.

The dispute pits two seemingly irreconcilable imperatives against each other: city budget constraints and union members’ desire to keep their jobs. Absent an injunction, the strike could last a long time, observers on both sides of the issue said.

“I don’t see the city backing down,” said John Hancock, a lawyer with the firm Butzel Long who has represented Michigan school districts in teacher strikes. “It’s not so much a labor dispute. It’s blackmail.”

But Ed Ott, the former head of the New York City Labor Council who is now a distinguished lecturer in labor studies at the Murphy Institute at the City University of New York, said, “From the workers’ point of view, the bidding process leaves them no option but to fight for their jobs … They kind of have their backs to the wall.”

The city’s last school bus strike, in 1979, lasted 14 weeks. Bloomberg said at his news conference, “I hope this is not going to last a long time but it’s not going to last past June.”


Attacks on bus drivers fewer but more violent, B.C. Transit reports

B.C. Transit reported fewer altercations between passengers and bus drivers this year, compared to 2011, but violent attacks causing injury were up slightly, according to the latest data.

Three transit operators in the region, including one on Boxing Day, reported injuries they say came from assaults by passengers. That figure is up from 2011, when no drivers reported being harmed. But overall, the number of reported threats and aggressive behaviour has decreased, says B.C. Transit.

Fifty-six drivers reported incidents in 2012, down from 67 the year before. The decrease is good news, according to B.C. Transit spokeswoman Meribeth Burton, but more needs to be done to prevent attacks on drivers.

?We encourage anything that would be a deterrent,? including the push for stiffer penalties for those convicted of assaulting an operator, she said.

Transit supports the bus drivers? union and its bid to have their members recognized as peace officers, a move that would put operators into a group with police, parking enforcement officers, border officials and corrections staff.

Assaults against peace officers are viewed as a more serious offence in the courts than typical assaults and typically come with a more severe punishment.

Canadian Auto Workers Local 333 said assaults on Greater Victoria drivers occur almost weekly, way up from the dozen or so assaults reported in a typical year about a decade ago.

Local 333 president Ben Williams discussed his members? concerns last week after a bus driver was attacked near Uptown shopping centre on Boxing Day.

Saanich police say the 54-year-old bus driver was punched several times in the face after he asked a passenger to use the back door instead of the front door.

The driver was helping a wheelchair passenger out the front door at the time. The man refused, punched the driver and tried to get away. However, he was grabbed and held by several passengers until police arrived.

B.C. Transit?s data show a higher number of incidents reported on busier routes. The No. 14 had four criminal assaults in 2012, a category that can include grabbing, attempts to injure, spitting, assault causing harm and assault with a weapon. The No. 6 route had three criminal assaults recorded.

The figures come as no surprise to the Crown corporation?s manager of safety and security, Stephen Anderson, who says the busiest routes will likely see more incidents. Some drivers who take these routes regularly could experience more than one incident in their careers because the risk is higher, he said.

The No. 14 goes through several communities, including View Royal, Esquimalt, Saanich and Victoria. It makes stops at key destinations, such as the downtown core, the University of Victoria and Victoria General Hospital.Victoria Regional T System

Bus driver assaulted on Boxing Day

Boxing Day took on new meaning, when a passenger allegedly punched a bus driver in the head Dec. 26.

After stopping the bus at Douglas Street and Boleskine Road last Wednesday, the 54-year-old driver was assisting a wheelchair-bound passenger exit through the front ramp when a 21-year-old man attempted to push through and leave through the same exit at the same time.

Despite being asked to leave through the rear exit, the assailant again attempted to push his way past. The bus driver blocked his attempts and the young man struck him in the face.

The bus driver and the assailant tumbled to the floor in the ensuing struggle. Pedestrians and bus passengers stopped the suspect and held him until Saanich police arrived.

The bus driver was treated for minor injuries.