Bus Strike May Leave Some Westchester Students Without a Ride
Unless a contract can be agreed upon, local bus drivers and monitors may go on strike as early as Monday.
Update 11/3: Transportation Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano has announced that no strike will be necessary, after reaching a tentative agreement with First Mile Square.
“In the end, it’s all about the kids. We want to get them to school. That’s our job. But we needed an agreement that was fair to our members.”
The new three-year deal includes three annual raises of 3%, 3%, and 3.5% for all workers across the board, and is retroactive as of July 1, the date on which the union's previous contract expired. TWU Local 100's website says, "There remain some details to be hashed out," but other sources are reporting guaranteed hours and sick leave are included in the new deal.
This afternoon, outside the bus depot at 700 Nepperhan Ave. in Yonkers, Union President Tony Utano called on Transportation Workers Union (TWU) 100’s six-hundred members to strike starting Monday, if a labor agreement cannot be reached with employer First Mile Square.
"This union doesn't want to go on strike," Utano said, echoing his official statement in a press release: "We came to negotiate with First Mile Square today and they didn't bother to show up."
The union has been working without a contract since the end of June. It claims that its drivers earn around $24 an hour and its bus monitors around $13, but are only paid for 22.5 hours per week, effectively making them part-time employees and severely limiting their benefits.
To rectify this, the union is seeking an increase to guarantee 25 hours per week, one paid sick day each year, and a 3 percent annual pay increase to bring First Mile Square employees in line with the earnings of neighboring bus companies.
“What we want is what the other bus companies got,” Utano said. “We're asking for parity. That's all we're asking for.”
TWU 100 members serve routes in school districts throughout Mamroneck, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, and its own Yonkers. Workers last threatened to strike in 2014, after going five years without a contract.
Utano remained hopeful, stating, "We will continue to negotiate to reach a fair deal but not indefinitely. We are running out of patience and First Mile Square is running out of time.”
Concerned parents and residents can follow @TWULocal100 on Twitter for updates on the potential strike.