NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently vetoed a bill that would have protected the seniority rights, wages, and benefits of school bus drivers.
Cuomo vetoed Senate Bill 6208, which would have required the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to include provisions for the retention or preference in hiring and the preservation of wages, health, welfare and retirement benefits, and seniority for K-12 school bus drivers in the state.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert Jackson, would have also required the DOE to report annually to the Division of the Budget, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on the results of incorporating the provisions in school bus contracts and to explain any increases in contract costs.
Cuomo vetoed the bill on Dec. 26, according to the New York Senate's website.
“The inclusion of these provisions is both anti-competitive as well as cost-inflating,” Cuomo wrote in the bill’s veto memo, AM New York reports. He also stated, according to the newspaper, “there is nothing to prevent the manipulation of the stated cost of these provisions that will be directly attributable to the state budget.”
In 2011, a New York state court ruled that the Employee Protection Provision (EPP) violated state laws on competitive bidding, according to NY Daily News. Nearly two years later, Mayor Bill de Blasio planned to restore the EPP after it was removed by former mayor Michael Bloomberg, which prompted a month-long bus strike in 2013, the newspaper reports.
More recently, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 voted to authorize another strike in April 2019 after lawmakers failed to include job protections for drivers in the new state budget. The strike was against Reliant Bus Company, which transports 12,000 of the city's students with disabilities.
Michael Cordiello, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, told NY Daily News that he was “disappointed” by Cuomo's decision to veto S6208, but added that the union would “continue to protect the jobs, wages, and benefits of our school bus drivers and attendants.”