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The strike comes as a result of the city's effort to cut transportation costs and its consideration of contracts with private companies.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the state Court of Appeals barred the city from including the EPP clause, and therefore, they can't include it. City officials said they are offering MetroCards for students and reimbursing parents for mileage during the strike, as well as reimbursing for taxi and car services. PINEDALE, Wyo., May 15 (UPI) -- The son of a suspected Utah kidnapper joined his father in police custody in Wyoming on Saturday night following a four-day manhunt. ATLANTA, May 14 (UPI) -- A stunt show pilot was killed Saturday when his biplane crashed in front of horrified spectators attending an air show near Atlanta.
LAREDO, Texas, May 14 (UPI) -- Eight people were killed Saturday and another 44 injured when a charter bus rolled over near Laredo, Texas, officials said. SAN DIEGO, May 14 (UPI) -- The mother of Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes has broken her silence regarding the 2012 incident that left 12 people dead. BOGOTA, May 14 (UPI) -- Police in Colombia said they have uncovered two million-dollar submarines in the past two days that were being used by drug cartels to smuggle cocaine.
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School bus drivers plan strike The city wants to save money, no matter what the cost to safety, explains Don Lash.
SOME 9,000 school bus drivers, mechanics and attendants in New York City are set to strike on Wednesday, January 16, in defense of decent working conditions and the safety of the students they serve. Months ago, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) essentially set out to provoke a strike in order to break the union, as part of a long-term strategy to reduce spending on pupil transportation. The city claims that it has no choice in the matter, insisting that a court ruling compels its negotiators to end the inclusion of job protection clauses in contracts it negotiates with private bus companies.
Fortunately for the DOE--although not for the children riding the buses and the workers charged with delivering them to and from school safely--the mainstream media have limited themselves to repeating the DOE talking points that Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1181 is determined to force an "illegal" strike which will harm children and inconvenience parents.

THE EMPLOYEE Protection Provision (EPP) that the city claims is now "illegal" was a major victory when the union won a three-month strike in 1979. Bus personnel, who perform a difficult and stressful job and are entrusted with ensuring the safe transport of 152,000 children each day, have a base level of job security, even if their company fails to secure a contract or loses a route.
Bus companies objected to the EPP because it cut into their profits, but the city defended the EPP against lawsuits filed by bus companies. At that time, the city took the position that the bill was necessary "to ensure stability for vulnerable children" and to avoid a strike that would disrupt the lives of students and parents.
Then, the city abruptly reversed itself and asked the governor to veto the bill it had just shepherded through the legislature. The city, of course, knew that scrapping EPP would infuriate the union--in fact, it convinced the state legislature to pass the legislation it later called on the governor to veto by telling lawmakers that a strike would certainly follow if EPP wasn't protected by legislation.
LOCAL 1181 has consistently said that it did not seek a strike, but has been left with no other option because the city is refusing to negotiate over EPP by citing its "illegality"--even though the city first supported then opposed the legislation that would have resolved the issue. Rank-and-file members of the union are now working with a coalition of parents, and they are ready to fight if the city won't budge.
Nevertheless, the parents who attended the rally connected the issue of job security with the safety and well-being of their children. Bus personnel appear to have a strong sense of their collective power, despite the threats of injunctions and sanctions from the bus companies and insults from Chancellor Walcott and billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The last strike involving yellow-bus personnel was in 1979, a completely different era in terms of municipal labor relations in New York. Supporters and allies will also have to work hard to broaden support among the parents of the approximately 1 million public school students. 16 (UPI) -- A union that represents 8,000 school bus drivers in New York City went on strike Wednesday, leaving 150,000 students without a ride to school, officials said. The union is worried current drivers could lose their jobs if the city decides to go with a private company, union officials said. Ever since, the city has required bus companies entering into contracts with the DOE--which does not own and operate buses itself--to prioritize experienced union drivers, mechanics and attendants in hiring. Equally important, students are protected from a "race to the bottom" among bus companies competing to lower labor costs at the expense of safety and professionalism. The city argued that there was an obvious connection between safety and the experience level of bus personnel. In doing so, it went back on everything it had been saying for years about the connection between competent and experienced personnel and maintaining high safety standards.

The only possible explanation is that the DOE decided that saving money by eliminating the EPP and sparking a race to the bottom to lower labor costs was simply a higher priority than safety and stability. By rejecting this protection as soon it was achieved, the city was calculating that it could defeat Local 1181 by forcing it into a strike. At a rally and press conference on January 6, parents and groups working to improve transportation services joined several hundred bus drivers and attendants. But the union leadership missed an opportunity to address the crowd by only speaking during the press conference and then only into reporters' microphones. One parent of a child with autism who spoke to Free Speech Radio News said she was worried non-union drivers wouldn't have the know-how to drive her special-needs child to school.
While the union may have some catching up to do in mobilizing parent support, there is an existing network of supportive parent groups, including Parents to Improve School Transportation, the From Day One Coalition, and Common Sense Busing. It will be vital for public employees, particularly in education and transit, to rally to the support of Local 1181 and to demand that their unions do likewise. As the solidarity shown by parents during the strike of the Chicago Teachers Union this fall demonstrated, public school parents are recognizing that the attacks on teachers are closely connected to the attacks on their children.
UPI also provides insightful reports on key topics of geopolitical importance, including energy and security. It became known as UPI after a merger with the International News Service in 1958, which was founded in 1909 by William Randolph Hearst. This means that a bidder can't hire cheaper, inexperienced personnel in an effort to give itself a competitive advantage in crafting a low bid. After a series of court rulings in favor of the bus companies was affirmed by the state's highest court in June 2011, the city lobbied to have the state legislature pass a bill that would allow it to continue to include the EPP in its bidding process. Rank-and-file members of the union blocked traffic on Broadway near City Hall, only letting city buses through. No effort was made to amplify the statements of the leadership for the rank and file or parent supporters.
In all, special-needs students make up 54,000 of the 152,000 kids transported by union drivers.
Similarly, this attack on bus drivers, attendants and mechanics is part of a broader war on public education and the rights of workers.

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