Officials of a school bus drivers' union have decided to end their monthlong strike in New York City. Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union went on strike over job protection issues.
"Though our strike has been suspended, the principles that we fight for remain pressing issues that the City will have to address," President Michael Cordiello said in a statement. "The fact is, a safe workforce is an experienced workforce and the Employee Protection Provisions currently included in the City's busing contracts protect our most experienced drivers, matrons, and mechanics - and have created one of the safest workforces in the entire country."
Some 8,000 bus drivers and aides walked off the job January 16, 2013. Drivers and matrons will report back to work Wednesday, February 20. (Schools are closed Monday and Tuesday.)
The strike affected tens of thousands of schoolchildren, including many disabled students.
Five Democratic mayoral candidates sent a letter to the union Thursday asking drivers to return to work. They say that, if elected, they will revisit the job security issue.
"In January when Mayor Bloomberg is gone, we are comfortable that his entire scheme will be rejected," Cordiello said. "We are grateful that so many elected leaders in this city are choosing the facts as a path to a conclusion, rather than a conclusion as a path to the facts."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement that he thanked the families, teachers, schools and Department of Education staff for getting through the challenges of the strike. He also thanked those bus employees who came to work despite the strike.
"For decades, the monopolistic bus contract process benefited the bus companies and unions at the expense of the City's taxpayers and students - but no longer," Bloomberg said. "We appreciate the hard work our bus drivers and matrons do and we welcome them back to the job. In the city's entire history, the special interests have never had less power than they do today, and the end of this strike reflects the fact that when we say we put children first, we mean it."