LONG ISLAND — It's been a rough week for families in four Long Island school districts. Thursday will be day four of a school bus strike that has left them scrambling.
Students in the Long Island school districts — Freeport, Hicksville, Baldwin and Rockville Centre, as well as several hundred students in queens, are affected.
A federal mediator has been involved in negotiations. TWU Local 252 and Baumann & Sons Bus, Inc. met Tuesday night before talks abruptly broke down early Wednesday morning.
"They walked away from the table last night 2:30 in the morning we spent 10 hours they gave us a backwards proposal we asked them a question but they're already gone because the attorneys said I'm tired I'm going home," said Debra Hagan, president of TWU Local 252.
Today, picketing workers chanted "What do we want? A contract. When do we want it? Now."
The main sticking points: pay increases and days off. The two sides now appear to be farther apart. Stuck in the middle of all these adults are, of course, the children.
"You should just resolve your problems and do it peacefully, that's what they teach us in school," advised 11-year-old Aidan Shaughnessy.
The sixth grader attends St. Agnes in Rockville Centre, along with his 7-year-old sister, Keira.
"Every time our friends are picking us up and taking us to school and I just want the bus to come back," said Keira.
The Shaughnessy family is like tens of thousands of others who have had to figure out how to get the kids to school this week, during this strike by transport workers against one of the areas largest bus companies.
"With the bus situation over last couple of days, those working parents really do a lot of juggling to make it work," said Gregory Shaughnessy.
Rockville Centre is the only district that put in place a contingency plan - contracting out to a temporary bus company but it only covers certain routes and certain times of day. Many of the affected schools have also extended hours for drop-offs and pick up times to accommodate parents.
"It's been a problem the bus it's been tough to get home the bus doesn't come in the morning we get a car pool with a bunch of our neighbors," added young Aidan.
Both sides head back to the bargaining table 8 a.m. Friday morning.