NBC 4 New York
Whether they decide to strike or not, the union representing the drivers is keeping the city on edge. Melissa Russo reports.
The New York City school bus drivers union announced Sunday night that workers would not go on strike Monday, but a work stoppage is still possible for the network that serves more than 150,000 students.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told parents at a press conference Sunday afternoon to plan for alternative transportation in case of a possible strike.
"The union has said, 'Well, maybe on Monday, well maybe Wednesday, maybe we'll do it, maybe we won't do it.' They're jerking our kids around," Walcott said. "We can't allow that to happen."
The city is looking to cut transportation costs and has put contracts with private bus companies up for bid. The union is decrying the lack of employee protections, saying many current drivers could suddenly lose their jobs once their contracts are up in June.
A decision on the new bids is to be made in May, city officials said.
Thousands of drivers and their supporters packed City Hall park for a rally Sunday.
"They're trying to replace us with inexperienced drivers working for new companies for minimum wage," said Samuel Rivera, 38, who's been driving for almost a dozen years.
Driver Rick Meli scanned the spirited throng in the park, standing shoulder to shoulder, and said, "This is going to get ugly."
"I've been working 35 years driving kids to school in the Bronx, and now you're going to tell me, 'You don't have a job no more?'" said the 67-year-old union member. "How do you tell this many people they could lose their jobs?"