Union Officials Forced to End Month-Long Strike


Unable to live on the strike pay they were drawing, rank and file union members withdrew their support from their union bosses.  This forced  Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181’s bosses to call off the month-long strike that deprived tens of thousands of special needs students from their education and support programs.  Rumor has it that even the ATU International was pushing for the strike to end. 

Yoav Gonen and David Seifman have the story in the New York Post. 

The strike’s end was a significant win for Mayor Bloomberg — who took a big risk by displacing tens of thousands of school kids from buses to competitively bid out a portion of the city’s costly school bus contracts for the first time in 33 years.

His refusal to even meet with the union after the Department of Education removed long-held job protections for school bus workers left Local 1181 with few options.

This week, bids for 1,100 routes at the heart of the battle were opened without incident — many coming in at relatively low costs.

There was also growing grumbling from drivers, matrons and mechanics — who said they were struggling to live on the union’s $300 weekly stipend since the strike was launched Jan. 16.

“People are getting testy, they can’t pay their bills, they can’t work,” said John Jankowski, a 22-year veteran of Local 1181. “There are a lot of people who can’t make ends meet.”

Local 1181 was even shedding dozens of personnel to competing unions, former members told The Post.

“I switched unions to come back to work,” said Aida Ortiz, 41, a bus matron at Boro Wide Buses who recently joined Teamsters Local 854. “When you have a family, you have to think about your family.”

But a source close to the bus strike said the letter was organized by ATU’s International arm to put pressure on the local union to get members back to work.

“They [the international] solicited people to sign it,” the source said.

Additional reporting by Kate Kowsh and Dana Sauchelli