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Day 3 of school bus drivers strike

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -
New York City's school bus strike entered its third day Friday.

Thousands of yellow school bus drivers and matrons remain off the job after striking over job protection.

Parents of about 150,000 students have had to scramble to make alternative plans to get kids to school.

About 100 bus drivers and bus matrons have been assembled on picket lines in the Queens section of the city.

Four bus companies called the NYPD to picket locations on Wednesday when strikers allegedly blocked gates while buses were trying to leave parking areas, the AP reported.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg called the incidents "an outrage."

The city's Department of Education wants to put out competitive bids for new contracts to bus the city's 152,000 students including 54,500 special needs students.

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

"Since 1979 no administration has rebid this contract. The union is striking the current holder of the contract because they don't want another company to come in, under bid and take their jobs," Bloomberg told Good Day NY. "It's not up to us it's up to the employers to decide whom they hire."

The sticking point with Local 1181 is the elimination of what are called employee protection provisions, or the EPP, that the union says protects workers' jobs, particularly veteran drivers.

"I am disappointed in Mayor Bloomberg's insensitivity towards New York's children and parents as they continue to deal with the city's decision to refuse to work towards an agreement to end the present school bus strike," said Michael Cordiello, president of Local 1181. "Parents and schoolchildren - especially those children with special needs - should never have to 'Learn to live with' inexperienced, unfamiliar drivers and matrons who do not have the track record of safety, dedication and professionalism that so many members of Local 1181 provide."

"The union that is striking has contracts with other companies in other counties where they do not have this provision," Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told Good Day NY.

"Safely transporting our children back and forth school today has, and always will be, the top priority of every man and woman who make up ATU Local  1181, said Cordiello, the local's president, in a statement. "The Employee Protection Provision (EPP) is directly linked to the safety and security of our children by ensuring the City's most qualified, skilled and experiences school bus crews remain on the job, and has been a cornerstone of these contracts for over 50 years."

Bloomberg said Sunday that the city bid out new contracts for the bus routes to try to save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

Officials with Local 1181 announced their members would walk off the job during a news conference on Monday afternoon.

"With its regrettable decision to strike, the union is abandoning 152,000 students and their families who rely on school bus service each day," Bloomberg said in a statement. "As Chancellor (Dennis) Walcott and I have said, the City will take all steps available to ensure that those who are impacted have the support they need, and we are now activating the protocols we put in place in the event of a strike."

53 schools and roughly 7,000 Catholic school students in the Archdiocese of New York are impacted by the school bus driver strike.

City officials said they have a contingency plan to get children to school.  The archdiocese is following the city's lead, said Dr. Timothy J. McNiff, Superintendent of Schools.

Walcott said that during a strike the NYPD will provide additional school crossing guards and transit officers. 

Temporary MetroCards will be given to students available through the school's office

  • K-12 parents can request an additional metro card to escort their child with special needs.
  • Parents who must now drive the children will be reimbursed at a rate of 55 cents per mile
  • If you take a taxi or car you will be reimbursed after completing a form
  • Late students will be excused up to 2 hours and those who can't make it at all will be marked absent with explanation code.

If you have any questions about those contingency plans you can call 311.

NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the Department of Education website will be updated at 7 a.m. every day of the bus strike.

For more information, visit the DOE website.

For parents and students of schools in the Archdiocese of New York impacted by the school bus driver strike, visit ArchNY.org.

With the Associated Press

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