NYC school bus workers rally, demand Cuomo sign employee protection bill

Kimberly Dole
November 18, 2019 - 2:49 pm

Samantha Liebman/1010 WINS

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Hundreds of New York City school bus workers rallied outside of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Monday, demanding fair protections in bus worker union contracts.

School bus workers from the largest school bus union, ATU Local 1181 rallied alongside parents and lawmakers to urge Cuomo to sign legislation known as
the Employee Protection Provisions Bill (EPP) that would protect the retirement benefits of bus drivers.

The EPP bill ensures that the most experienced drivers and attendants are safely transporting the children of New York City.

"There were more than 900 bills that passed both houses at the end of session and nearly 400 bills remain under review by Counsel’s Office and the Division of the Budget. It is our responsibility to ensure that the bills, as written, are responsible, enforceable and accomplish their intended purpose." A statement from a spokesperson for Governor Cuomo said.

Without state action, the jobs and benefits of  nearly 2,000 special needs school bus drivers will be at risk and experienced workers will be forced out of a job and on to government assistance—such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance — coming at a direct cost to taxpayers.

Union friendly contractors could go bankrupt or withdraw from the school system, anti-union forces will increase their leverage in the industry and thousands of pensions will be in jeopardy.

TWU and the Teamsters unuions are both opposed to the bill and sent letters of opposition to members of the State Assembly. In the letter from TWU, Union President Tony Utano said the bill does not protect all NYC school bus workers and does nothing to povide better service for NYC students. "In fact, the employee protections proposed in this bill only protects one segment of the workforce, and in fact, one particular school bus company. That is not fair. The bill, if passed, will create a two-tier system for school bus workers in New York City – the equivalent of a modern day caste system. "

Teamsters Presdient George L. Miranda shared similar sentiments and urged assembly members to vote no on the bill. "While this bill was advanced by the legislature with good intentions, it will unfortunately harm more school bus workers than it will help. Instead of restoring the Employee Protection Provision that guaranteed job stability and maintained labor peace in the school bus industry for decades, the legislation creates a new system with new problems that will displace more school bus workers and prove unworkable for responsible union companies."

The current bill has zero fiscal impact on the state.

The NYS Senate passed the EPP bill by a vote of 51 to 1 on May 30. The New York State Assembly passed the EPP bill by a vote of 114 to 12 on June 17.

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