By Victor Skinner
NEW YORK – Unionized New York City school bus drivers threw in the towel and called off their strike Tuesday after it dragged on for weeks with no success.
Workers with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 decided to return to work Wednesday after they were unable to prevent Mayor Michael Bloomberg from removing the “Employee Protection Provision” of their contract, which forces bus companies to prioritize union labor, SocialistWorker.org reports.
After a month of chanting slogans and toting picket signs, the city’s school bus drivers realized Bloomberg will not flinch on the issue, and settled for the best they could get: a pledge from all five of the city’s Democratic candidates for the upcoming mayoral election to support the employee protection provision, the left-wing news site reports.
Money also may have been an issue.
“Striking members would have had a very difficult time enduring a longer strike,” SocialistWorker.org reports. “A bus driver at top pay earns about $44,000 a year, and attendants earn less than $30,000 – both well below the median household income for the city.
“Strike pay was averaging $150 to $300 per week, and the workers’ health insurance ran out February 1.”
The decision means the city’s 8,000 school bus drivers will be back to work tomorrow, and Bloomberg can strip the illogical EEP provision from contracts covering about 20 percent of student bus routes when the agreements expire this summer.
All the Democratic mayoral contenders said they’d “revisit” the issue if elected, but SocialistWorker.org points out that their word really doesn’t mean much.
… “Democrats have proven that they can’t be trusted to honor such pledges – not least in the new age of austerity, in which Democratic mayors and city legislators have overseen some of the harshest attacks on workers,” according to the site.