NEW YORK — More than a month after going on strike, members of New York City's biggest school bus driver union will go back to work this week.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Friday night that union leaders had agreed to end the strike. Full bus service is expected to resume when students return from winter recess on Wednesday.
“I want to thank the families, teachers, schools and Department of Education staff who faced a challenging four weeks, as well as the bus employees who helped keep some of the routes operational throughout the strike,” Bloomberg said. “We appreciate the hard work our bus drivers and matrons do, and we welcome them back to the job.”
Earlier last week, the city accepted the first bids on school bus contracts in more than 30 years.
Dennis Walcott, chancellor of the Department of Education (DOE), said that the new bids have “the potential to cut costs, transfer the savings to classrooms and secure quality service from certified drivers and matrons for our students. This open, fair and competitive process is what our school system and city deserve and sets an important standard that we will continue to uphold.”
The strike began on Jan. 16, with Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union calling for the continuation of job protections that Mayor Michael Bloomberg contended "the city is not legally allowed to provide."
With the union on strike, the DOE deployed a number of alternate arrangements to get kids to and from school, including distributing MetroCards and providing reimbursements for families that had to drive or use a car service. Some yellow buses were operated by school bus drivers who aren’t Local 1181 members.
Walcott extended his thanks to “the bus companies, drivers and matrons who helped keep some bus routes in service and continued to increase the number of routes that went out every day. Because of their hard work and dedication to our students, we were able to increase the number of routes that went out by more than 400 by the end of the strike.”
Walcott also noted that student attendance increased from around 49% on the first day of the strike to over 78% last week.