The union wants an Employee Protection Provision (EPP) included in any new contract bid the city accepts from private bus companies. This would protect some of the members with most seniority (the highest paid and most likely to be laid off). It basically says that employees are not guaranteed a position if a new company takes over and can be laid off, but if a position becomes available the new company has to pick from laid off workers, those with seniority to be picked first. The provision has been in bus contacts since the 1960s. It was taken out in the 70s which resulted in a strike. It was put back in in 1979.
The city & DOE’s position is that EPPs are illegal so their hands are tied.
The city failed to properly fight a lawsuit levelled against them & the union by private companies regarding the Employee Protection Provision. However, that ruling was ONLY for companies who provide service to preK students. The city also asked Gov. Cuomo to veto a bill they had previously supported that would allow those bussing preK students to be provided with the same provision. For the Mayor and the DOE to place blame solely on the union AND to claim that all EPPs are illegal is inaccurate and irresponsible.
Bus drivers and matrons are right to be concerned about their job security. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office(pdf), the number of long-term unemployed people age 55 and older has more than doubled since the recession began. More than a third of unemployed older workers have been out of work for more than a year, and 55 percent have been unempoyed for more than six months, up from 23 percent in 2007. One person interviewed by the GAO said employers encouraged them to screen out workers over 40. These middle class workers stand to lose their pay checks, their health insurance, their pensions…with little hope of finding employment elsewhere.
Most important, though, are the students who will be affected. Who do you want your kid driven to school by: the person who gets barely above minimum wage, little to no healthcare coverage, and has less experience? OR someone experienced who has built a relationship with students, is secure in their finances, and has paid sick leave? 152,000 students will be affected one way or another. Many of those kids have special needs. Do we really want to jeopardize the jobs of experienced workers, who put the safety of our kids first, just to save a few bucks? Well, judging from the Mayor’s and DOE’s track records…union–busting is their ONLY concern.