Bus companies, union reach agreement to avoid strike

NEW YORK — Two of the city’s largest school bus companies and union members reached a deal Monday evening just hours before a strike occurred.

The mayor’s office tweeted Monday around 10 p.m., saying a deal had been reached to avoid a strike. The strike would have impacted transportation for more than 14,000 students in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

“We are pleased to report that Jofaz Transportation and Y&M Transit have reached a tentative agreement with their bus drivers’ union and all buses will operate tomorrow as usual. We are grateful to families and educators for their patience and support as we prepared contingency plans to ensure transportation alternatives for students and families,” a spokesperson for the Department of Education said Monday.

Last week 85 percent of Teamster Local 553 members working for Jofaz Transportation and Y&M Transit voted in favor of a strike.

Union members were angry about a proposal that would make them pay for healthcare and slash five of their paid holidays.

Under the new agreement, employers will continue to provide healthcare at no cost.

“I am so thankful to win a contract that protects our healthcare,” said Lisa Cilone, a Jofaz school bus driver. “We are proud of the work we do. This job is important and school bus employees should be fairly compensated.”

The contract was set to expire Tuesday.