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NYC school bus drivers will strike Wednesday morning, union president announces

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On a day marked by press conferences to defuse a looming school bus strike, the union president announced that they will begin a strike Wednesday morning.

Michael Cordiello, of the Local 1181, announced that drivers will not show up for work if an impasse over added job protection is not resolved.  A strike would affect more than 150,000 New York schoolchildren.

Mayor Bloomberg said Monday that “the city is prepared for a strike,” and added that fulfilling the union’s demands would be illegal.

“A strike would not only be unfair to children and families, it would be totally misguided because the city cannot legally offer what the union is demanding,” he said. “Have you ever heard of a strike where one side is demanding something that the courts have ruled illegal? It is just meshugana, as we say in Gaelic.”

At stake is added job protection for union bus drivers in light of the June expiration date for their contract with the city.  In a bid to save money, Mayor Bloomberg has already put the contracts with private bus companies up for bid.SchoolBus

Despite the Mayor’s declaration of readiness, the Department of Education has also declared that their proposed contingency plan — MetroCards for students — will not go into effect until AFTER the strike is already underway.

“Just the logistics of giving them out and people having a MetroCard they think will work and going into stations and trying to use it, I think would be a nightmare for the MTA,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told PIX11 News.

“If they use the MetroCard before it’s authorized, then that deactivates it for the month as well,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.  “So we want to make sure if there is a strike they have it, they can use it — they would get it on Wednesday if it happens to be on Wednesday.”

How students would be able to use it on the morning of the strike is not clear.

Parents of students K-8th  who drive will get 55 cents/mile for gas, and car service costs will be reimbursed.

Students will be allowed a 2-hour grace period for those arriving late, and absences will be marked with a special code that will not affect their record.