Over 150,000 students could be affected by a union strike on Wednesday, as bus drivers for the Local 1811 of the Amalgamated Transit Union continue their battle with the city of New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  

Of those 150,000 plus students, an estimated 54,000 of those affected have disabilities.
The dispute stems from a city proposal seeking new operators for more than 1,000 routes.  The drivers want guarantees that even after the new operators are chosen, the current drivers will still have jobs, a request that the city has said is illegal based on an earlier court ruling.
Meanwhile, mayoral candidate George McDonald is calling on Bloomberg to channel his inner Ronald Reagan, and demand that the workers either report for work or face dismissal.  McDonald cites a previous strike in the city that specifically led to a serious accident involving New York City firefighter Matt Long.
Long was critically injured when he was struck by a bus during an illegal MTA strike in 2005.
McDonald said, “We’ve seen this movie, it can end in tragedy”.
Let’s hope the union drivers come to their senses and find another means to negotiate, and not continue to use over 150,000 school children as pawns in an attempt to circumvent a court ruling.
The full McDonald press release is below:

With over 152,000 students including 22,500 special needs students facing the prospect of no transportation for school on Wednesday morning, Doe Fund Founder and mayoral candidate George McDonald called on drivers to get back to work and not risk the lives of our young children.  

McDonald said, “We’ve seen this movie before, it can end in tragedy. It is unconscionable that the union would put our children in harm’s way for any reason, let alone for the sake of job protections that a court has ruled illegal.” 

In 2005, New York City firefighter Matt Long was critically injured when he was struck by a bus during the illegal MTA transit strike. Long was crushed and nearly killed by a charter bus hired to shuttle workers to and from Bear Stearns. 

McDonald said, “Matt Long’s accident was a direct result of the strike, he only survived because of an incredible will, support of his family and superior physical conditioning.  We can not and must not subject our children to such unnecessary risks.” 

McDonald urged Mayor Bloomberg to follow President Ronald Reagan’s lead in addressing the situation with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1811.  In 1981, President Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers who ignored his order to return to work. Lawyers for the school bus companies have indicated that they will ask federal labor authorities for an injunction to stop the strike since the disagreement is with the city, raising the specter that the strike is illegal. 

Said McDonald, “I respect the right of workers in the private sector to strike, but I also believe we have a basic obligation to get our students to school safely.  Our children face enough obstacles receiving an education, getting to school in one piece shouldn’t be one of them. That is why I am urging the Mayor to tell union drivers to get back to work or move forward with bidding on new contracts.”