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Heads Up: School Bus Union Notifies Parents They’re Going To Strike | Information on NYCDOE Contingency Plan

Heads Up: School Bus Union Notifies Parents They’re Going To Strike | Information on NYCDOE Contingency Plan

January 7, 2013

Attention Parents, Grandparents & Guardians:

On January 4, ATU 1181, the union that represents the yellow school bus drivers and matrons distributed the letter below to parents.

In this letter, ATU 1181 advises parents “there will be a work stoppage of service to you”To view the ATU 1181 letter online, click here or go to

The school bus union and NYCDOE are fighting over the Employment Protection Provision (EPP). Simply put, EPP is seniority & LIFO (Last In First Out) for bus drivers and matrons.  The NYCDOE has requested bids for bus contracts and the school bus union wants the bids to include the EPP.  In 2011, the court ruled the EPP is illegal but the school bus union believes NYCDOE should still go ahead and include the EPP.  They obviously differ on the interpretation of the law and if it applies to K-12 bus contracts.

Click here to view the NYCDOE FAQ on the School Bus Bids or go to

While the school bus union and NYCDOE fight, our children as usual will end up as collateral damage and our lives turned upside down with the school bus strike.  At the end of this posting are links to news coverage on this issue, I suggest you read the articles and become fully informed on this issue that will impact your child when they strike.  And, in the meantimes, hope the NYCDOE and ATU 1181, work it out together for our children and avoid a strike.

The NYCDOE has prepared for the strike.  To view the most updated letter in multiple languages from Chancellor Walcott, click here or go to

If there is a strike or service disruption, the following protocols will take effect for families of students who currently receive yellow bus service:

  • All students who currently receive yellow bus service may receive a MetroCard. MetroCards are being made available at the schools and should be requested through your school’s general office. We have already informed the Metropolitan Transit Authority that it may need to accommodate additional riders.
  • Parents of pre-school and school-age children with IEP’s requiring transportation from their home directly to their school as well as parents of general education children in grades K-2may also request a MetroCard for the parent or guardian to act as the child’s escort to school.
  • As an alternative to MetroCards for parents whose children receive busing from their home,or students in grades K-6 receiving yellow bus service from a school bus stop who live in areas where public transportation between home and school is not readily available, we are offering reimbursement for actual transportation costs. Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed are a rate of 55 cents per mile.  Parents who use a taxi or car service to transport their child to school will be reimbursed for the trip upon completion of reimbursement forms that includes a receipt for provided services.  Requests for reimbursements should be made weekly on forms that will be available on the DOE web site and in your school’s general office. We encourage families driving or using car service to carpool with their neighbors whenever possible.

Advocates for Children is also offering taxi fare assistance for parents who do not have upfront money for transportation.  If you need financial assistance, please call them at 1-212-947-9779.

School Bus Bids FAQs
January 2013

Why go out for bids now?
These busing contracts have not been put out for significant competitive bidding in 33 years. Since then, the cost of yellow bus service has skyrocketed to $1.1 billion a year, or $6,900 per bused student.
As some of our contracts will expire at the end of this school year, the City has decided to solicit new bids for those contracts to secure the best responsible price for this service. Last Year, the City bid out contracts for pre-k bus service and saved $95 million over five years.

Why would the bus unions strike?
The drivers want job guarantees, known as Employee Protection Provisions, to be included in the new contract bids – something the City is not legally allowed to do. When the City put pre-kindergarten bus contracts out to bid, the Court of Appeals ruled that the Employee Protection Provisions could not be included under circumstances, which are essentially the same as those today.

The union claims the Employee Protection Provisions ensures that bus drivers meet safety standards. Is this true?
This is not true. The bids we issued maintain the central requirements all bus drivers to meet the same safety standards they do now. No other school district in the state or country has an Employee Protection Provision.

The following requirements are a part of the current contracts and will remain in the new ones:

  • A Social Security card, and if not a United States citizen, a Green Card or Resident Card.
  • A New York State commercial driver’s license (CDL) with CDL “S” (school bus) endorsement and “P” (passenger) endorsement.
  • A letter from the bus company, on company letterhead, requesting certification.
  • Three letters of reference (from individuals, organizations and/or agencies not related by blood or marriage to the driver) that attest to his or her character and work record.
  • 19-A final qualification letter (result of DMV fingerprint process).
  • 13 county criminal history check letter dated within 60 days.
  • Physical performance test dated within 60 days. This exam is given once every two years.
  • Medical examination and Purified Protein Derivative Tuberculosis Skin Test (PPD) dated within 90 days. If PPD is positive the results of a chest x-ray are required.
  • Clean drug test results dated within 60 days.
  • Abstract of official vehicle operating record from NYSDMV—19A Active-School Qualified. If not, driver should provide an add-on to roster letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DS-870).
  • Pre-service training certificate—completion of five hour course provided through an OPT-certified training location.
  • Spring/fall refresher certificate—two hour required refresher course provided through an OPT-certified training location. Drivers must attend a yearly refresher course. Complete OPT application signed by bus company representative. Driver will be certified under this company.

Has the City gone to the National Labor Relations Board to try to stop a possible strike?
Unfortunately, there are no legal remedies the City can pursue to block a strike. Last year, the union, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, threatened to strike when we issued the Pre-K bid solicitation, and we asked the NLRB to take action to block a strike. Regrettably, the NLRB denied our request.

How many bus routes does the DOE have?
The DOE has 7,700 bus routes that serve more than 152,000 students, 54,000 of whom have disabilities and require special transportation services.
Of those total routes, the City put 1,100 out to bid last month. Those routes serve 22,500 students with disabilities who require special transportation in grades Kindergarten to 12.

How many students would be affected by the strike?
A system-wide strike would impact all 152,000 students who receive yellow bus services.

How much of the school budget goes to cover the cost of busing?
New York City pays more for yellow bus service than any other large urban district in the country. It costs $1.1 billion to bus 152,000 students – a per student cost of $6,900. Los Angeles – second only to New York City in size – pays $3,124 per student.



1. N.Y.C. Plans for Possible School Bus Drivers’ Strike –…/new-york-city-plans-for-possible-school

12 hours ago – Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott outlined contingency plans as a union leader urged negotiations on job security, the main issue.

2. City’s conflict with bus drivers union extends with GothamSchools…/citys-conflict-with-bus-drivers-union-ex…

2 days ago – The city and its school bus drivers union are each appealing to parents out their positions in a contract dispute that could cause a bus strike.

3. Labor issues could mean NYC school bus strike –…/labor_issues_could_mean_nyc_school_

18 hours ago – The New York City schools chancellor on Sunday accused school bus drivers of “jerking our kids around” by threatening to strike and forcing

ATU_1181_Letter_to_Parents (2)