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November 05, 2013  |   Comments (27)   |   Post a comment

Atlantic Express files for bankruptcy

By Thomas McMahon

Atlantic Express has operations in New York, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania, with a total of more than 5,000 school buses.

Atlantic Express has operations in New York, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania, with a total of more than 5,000 school buses.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A union battle, bidding issues and challenging earnings are key factors in school bus contractor Atlantic Express Transportation Corp.’s filing for bankruptcy, company officials said on Monday.

With a fleet of more than 5,000 school buses, Atlantic Express is the fourth-largest contractor in North America. The company has operations in New York, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania.

Atlantic Express and its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for debt relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Officials said that during the Chapter 11 process, the company will continue normal operations and will “remain committed to providing its customers and passengers with safe, reliable and timely student and commuter transportation service.“

Officials said that Atlantic Express intends to use the Chapter 11 process to explore the availability of additional debt or equity financing, market its assets for sale, and continue what they described as “challenging labor negotiations” for a new collective bargaining agreement with Local 1181-1061, Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO.

“Quite simply, our current business model in our largest market, New York City, is not sustainable as union labor costs and operating expenses have severely hindered our ability to remain competitive and meet our financial obligations,” said David Carpenter, president and CEO of Atlantic Express. “Following a lengthy review process, and with the assistance of independent financial and legal advisors, our board of directors determined that a court-supervised process is the only feasible course of action.”

Atlantic Express announced Carpenter’s appointment as president and CEO this summer. He succeeded Domenic Gatto, the company’s founder and long-serving CEO and president, who last year announced his plans to retire.

Atlantic Express has filed a series of customary motions in bankruptcy court seeking to ensure the continuation of normal operations. This includes requesting court approval for debtor-in-possession financing and the use of cash collateral, the continuation of its cash management system and other business operations without interruption, and the payment of employee wages and benefits.

Also, Atlantic Express has filed a motion seeking approval of bidding procedures and authorization to sell some or all of its assets in December if the company is unable to reach an agreement with Local 1181 on a new collective bargaining agreement and to obtain additional financing.

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Read more about: Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., New York, unions

you drive a bus ... not much skill or training required. I recommend you shut up and take the deal. Otherwise, Atlantic should fire your lazy A$$e$ and go hire some immigrants from south of the border who'd be happy to take your job. and work harder than you bums.

Tony    |    Jun 05, 2014 06:12 AM

I hear what you r saying but, you are wrong to just shut up and take it. At my job the corporation said to most of the employees u r now a salaried employee and we don't have to pay over time. and no we do not meet the 4 requirements as dept of labor requires. Dept of labor does not care either. So yes stand up for yourselvs....Bus driver on LI

jamar    |    Dec 13, 2013 09:20 AM

We may hve went for, ull get the back pay but eliminate christmas, easter nd maybe put a cap on vacation pay nd take the 7% cut. They dnt wanna give anything! No compromise @ all! This economy is getting worse, i dnt know how we r supposed to make a living! May God help us all!

dunny toomer    |    Dec 08, 2013 10:06 AM

I am sooo PROUD of my Brothers & Sisters at AE for UNITING with a unanimous NO Vote on 12/4...... The worst elimination in the whole contract was the company's refusal to pay the workers OUR BACK PAY..... Which we already worked so hard for - last year & which was already Granted To Us By A a FEDERAL JUDGE...... continue to SAY NO & continue to STAND UNITED!!!

Marie D    |    Dec 07, 2013 06:57 AM

The vote was no, they already took frm us aftr sandy and aftr a strike we wre told to do by our union. We r caught in the middle nd its our pockets that take the hit. Yes im greatful for a job as well but u cnt let employers crap on u or theyll nevr stop! We will b fine! Theres a plan b aftr evry a! Well done my AE family!

dunny toomer    |    Dec 05, 2013 11:19 AM

A "NO" vote was handed down today by the membership. These greedy corporations are looking to pocket every nickel & dime possible with no regard for the workers that have help build them. These big corporations filled with the 1% which are mostly CEO's, are only looking out for themselves and would just love to see all workers of every company just make the minimum wage! What a way to keep down the poor and line the pockets of the rich. These blue collar workers should be applauded for being brave enough to stand up to these money hungry mongols. Just because you own a company doesn't make it right to step over the workers that are helping build your company! Don't blame the workers or the unions for the poor management of your highly paid CEO's! For the great majority of workers to vote "NO", is a testament to the lousy conditions offered on a one sided contract.

Sammy    |    Dec 04, 2013 04:29 PM

LA driver - I know its not easy to loose our job but we have to take a stand now or get rail roaded later. Thank goodness many took stands in the past and changed the way things were today and Im sure they made many sacrifices. Its just a matter of time before these big corporate companies strip our basic needs and make it where these positions can only be either for retired people and/or a minimum wage job-- MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT - THATS WHERE THIS IS HEADING, SO WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO STAND UP FOR OURSELVES NOW OR GET HUNG OUT TO DRY LATER ANYWAY...

CHRIS    |    Dec 03, 2013 04:32 PM

@ my hateful fellow "driver" comment. If you are that dissatisfied with our LA location why are you still here? Safe a spot for someone who wants a job & get out duh! I thank God that I am employed in these days. Which due to this whole mess may suddenly change. Leaving myself & children & other coworkers on the street.

Another LA driver    |    Dec 03, 2013 04:22 PM

Mr. Carpenter needs to come to the table with a more reasonable offer for AE workers and start having some empathy for these blue collar workers that have helped build Atlantic Express to the impressive school bus transporter it is today. This new CEO needs to take into account that the majority of these workers have been with the company way before he came into this industry and have MUCH to loose by accepting this ONE-SIDED contract he threw at them! Mr. Carpenter, don't push a poor man against the cliff because he will undoubtedly jump... Blue Collar Workers UNITE and vote NO!!

Chris    |    Dec 01, 2013 07:27 AM

Well let them give me an early retirement option and I will sign their junk contract- but they need to throw me or bone or my answer is Nooooooooo! I rather go down fighting- hey, that's the New York way... No real New Yorker is a coward & we won't be scammed!

Chris    |    Nov 29, 2013 07:34 PM

I agree with Sammy & John. AE dropped the ball & now want to blame everything but themselves. That one sided contract was an insult to the workers and just a bail out for themselves! They didn't even have the decency to offer some type of early retirement and/or buyout to the senior people that would be most affected and which would help alleviate things for the new people coming into the company. When u respect your workers dignity you get more out of them but AE is only dragging themselves down and have only themselves to blame, Now they have the Audacity to blame "high labor costs"... Gimme a break! Yet they have money for new buses , etc... Please! Most of the people I speak to are in agreement in not giving in to this crappy "last offer"!

Chris    |    Nov 29, 2013 05:46 PM

If you continue to play chicken with the company without any sort of compromise, you'll all be out of work! Guess what, you'll have no one to blame but the fat cats that collected your dues! Don't believe me, check out what happened to Hostess!!! Good luck!!

Johnny    |    Nov 27, 2013 08:13 PM

Let them shut this hell hole down! AE LA is a total Dysfunctional, disorganized mess! Take you're certificates and go to another company!

driver    |    Nov 27, 2013 07:25 PM

You guys are Being real selfish and only thinking about yourselves and the senior drivers what about the new drivers that make $10 and the staff? And what about the union that you guys pay that aren't doing anything for you ask them for a retirement plan the staff has to provide their own but you guys are paying someone to do what? So you would rather see us all lose our jobs than compromise!

AELA    |    Nov 27, 2013 12:54 PM

I agree Sammy- These companies want to intimidate the workers with their threats of "all or nothing", and they have just as much to loose by not coming to some type of compromise. They are just playing poker and trying to bully their workers into a one sided contract that only will benefit them... Don't be fooled-- nobody will be loosing their jobs come January- I haven't heard the city making alternate arrangements to get kids to school come January (although now that it's mentioned Bloomberg may start the threats to make this plot seem more credible)... AE better rethink their strategy and offer a more reasonable contract since most workers I have spoken to are ready to call their bluff... This company will be learning soon that it's never a good idea to ask someone that doesn't have much to loose to throw in the towel.

John    |    Nov 27, 2013 08:07 AM

What a lousy contract was thrown at workers today! AE made no compromises and workers are the only ones being asked to make concessions. They didn't even offer any type of early retirement and/or buy-outs, proof they have NO appreciation for the senior workers that have helped AE become a reputable company-- Disgraceful! Blue Collar workers UNITE & don't allow this company to push you off the cliff without a fight! If your going down- take them down with you-- DONT AGREE TO THAT ONE SIDED CONTRACT!!

Sammy    |    Nov 27, 2013 07:49 AM

I've worked at this place since they literally built it from a dirt lot here in LA. 16 yrs!! haven't seen an increase in 3 yrs. Our offices are understaffed; as in LA doesn't have an actual personal dpt, & Long Beach has no payroll department. Staff struggles to help eachother with whatever needs to be done & we do have a great team here in office & as well as drivers. Everything seems to be on the hush for us & we are told not to worry. But what happens to us emplyoees? We have families, children. What a wonderful Christmas gift it will be for all affected. :(

LA    |    Nov 26, 2013 10:06 PM

I work in Los Angeles as well and because of some of my fellow employees are very selfish and greedy we may all be losing our jobs in economic crisis!!!!

AELA    |    Nov 26, 2013 09:56 PM

What a great way to start the new year jobless.We received our letter that Atlantic Express of N.J. will be shutting their doors as of Dec 31. The worse for me is my husband is disabled and I just recently went thru breast cancer.God forbid if something else goes wrong with me, I will no longer have medical, but then I worry more about my husband than myself along with all my co-workers that have children such as myself raising a grandson..I don;t think this is a good thing,what will everyone do.I have worked for this company for fifteen years and this is what we get a smack in the face for all those years we put into this company.Good luck to you all that is losing their jobs as of Dec 31.Hopefully we will all find another job quickly.Happy Holidays if you can.

Barbara Finley    |    Nov 26, 2013 08:39 AM

Do you guys have any idea of what it cost to run an operation like this????What's the margin of profits???? Go out, Put the cash on the table and your balls and run the dam thing yourself, Maybe you'll have somthing to be complaining about AFTER THE YEAR IS OVER!!!!

metoo    |    Nov 18, 2013 05:54 PM

I work in the los angeles company and whats happening in new york is effecting us our union contract has been expired since sept. but business has not missed a beat we have runs 7 days a week more private routes then I've seen in the past 8 yrs i have been an employee and y r they in debt??? I DON'T PAY THEIR BILLS I JUST DO MY JOB SO WE CAN ALL GET PAID AND NEITHER DOES THE UNION I PAY MY UNION DUES AT THE HIGHEST

rachel    |    Nov 15, 2013 07:00 PM

Well I just got a letter in the mail stating that we are all terminated as of Dec.31.

Anonymous    |    Nov 12, 2013 08:36 PM

Laura... We do not make a lot of money... For what we do and our responsibility it's about time we gain some respect here... We aren't carrying parcel or garbage ... These are children our precious cargo ! What's that worth we don't even make a garbage mans salary !

Maria Gentile    |    Nov 12, 2013 12:31 PM

Randy...I am an employee with this company since 1978, you TOTALY hit the nail on the head here...when business is owed by big investors this is always the end result.... When this company was privately owned there was a personal interest a personal touch .... Once it was sold to big investors this is the out come. It is not labor costs we don't make a lot of money. The other large bus company's have the same labor costs and they are not going BANKRUPT why? Because they are privately owned and they have a vested interest in their business and their employees...

Maria Gentile    |    Nov 12, 2013 12:28 PM

It's impossible to know from this article the overall impact of unions on this business. Oftentimes business will blame unions; and if they're not blaming unions, their blaming the affordable health care act; or blaming something else. Most often, it seems, business entities try and to squeeze every cent of profit it can on the backs of its customers, its employees, and even its equipment – if it can get away with it – at the expense of good service, common sense, and sound business judgment. We see more and more businesses reap colossal profits and then walk away from the business leaving huge amounts of debts, customer stranded, and responsible employees left without work. The management team walks away with millions while crying how all these other factors brought down the business. No action is ever taken against them; know or did is ever conducted with regards to their actual management skills and their role in bringing down the business. We really need to know more before we can have a full picture of what went on, what went wrong, and who and what really is the culprit here

Randy Mazie    |    Nov 07, 2013 11:12 AM

It's not the labor contract that is not making the company go bill Thompson said are salaries are not the problem. How about mismanagement .to many managers who have no purpose over employed in their offices and monies that are supposed to go back in the company going in other peoples pockets!!

Joe    |    Nov 07, 2013 08:36 AM

I know that unions are a good thing, but, sometimes they get too big for their own good and the employers can't afford them and their other expenses. Make it work for everybody not just employees.

Laura Johnson    |    Nov 06, 2013 07:53 AM

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