The Real Agenda Behind the School-Bus Strike


In a weekend Twitter exchange with Larry Hanley, president, ATU International (parent union for ATU Local 1181), Mr. Hanley challenged me to support an MTA takeover of the school-bus industry.

English: Type A school bus (Trans Tech Model D...

When I asked if that was the endgame in mind, I didn’t get a reply. Then it hit me.
Hanley knows that our present-day public transit system exists because private efforts (BMT, IRT, IRT) failed to function efficiently or turn a profit. The Green Bus Lines (whose drivers were  ATU Local 1179 members) which operated in Brooklyn and Queens until being taken over by the MTA Bus Company in 2006.
In January 2005, just prior to the MTA takeover, ATU Local 1179 went on strike over concerns for health benefits and job security. The claims made in 2005 are eerily familiar. It’s beginning to make sense now. For Larry Hanley and Mike Cardiello (president, 1181)  the EPP can be enshrined through an MTA of the yellow school-bus routes.
The language of that strike and today’s yellow school-bus strike are eerily similar:
Workers insist that they will remain on strike until they are guaranteed that they will be adequately protected when the MTA takes over the private bus lines. Local 1179 has filed a lawsuit that would force the city to maintain labor standards first instituted in 1975, when the city began to receive federal subsidies for the private bus lines. “Once the [MTA] takeover takes place, they can extract concessions from us,” Local 1179 President John Longo told Newsday–which is why the union wants a deal now.
In 2005, Local 1179 wanted guaranteed job protections prior to the MTA takeover. Today, Local 1181 wants the 35 years old Employee Protection Procedures (EPP)  forced on any new bus companies.
In Larry Hanley’s mind, there is recent precedent for an MTA takeover of a failed bus line. But the yellow school-bus contract is hardly analogous. The industry appears healthy.
Hanley, Cardiello and their allies call the Bloomberg Administration’s effort to rein in the costs of pupil transportation implementation of  “Shock doctrine” inspired austerity plan meant to drive down the costs of labor and destroy organized labor. 

In other exchanges, he characterized the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case a show put on by the bus companies. Brave talk for someone aware that a negative NLRB finding in favor of the bus companies would lead to a federal court injunction ending ATU Local 1181’s illegal strike.
But on Friday, the US District Court in Washington, DC threw a wrench into the already complicated situation by ruling that President Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB unconstitutional. This decision suspends all prior NLRB actions and puts into limbo all current cases before the Board.
The real show is about how the ATU blackmails the City into acquiescing to an MTA takeover of pupil transportation. Stay tuned because it’s just beginning to get interesting.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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