It is shameful that New York city’s school bus drivers, whose major function is to transport special needs children, have gone on strike today–and even more shameful that they’re striking for the guarantee of employment, which may be illegal.
This is yet another example of public employees unions run amok:
The city, Bloomberg said, would be holding firm. It is seeking new bids from bus companies that run some of the city’s routes, without the traditional job protection guarantees for union members that have been in past contracts. The Bloomberg administration argues that a recent court ruling has found that the city cannot offer the guarantees sought by the union.
“We couldn’t change our mind and cave if we wanted to,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
The union has contended that the court rulings are not as clear as Mr. Bloomberg claims and has said the decision for its 8,800 drivers and matrons to strike was essentially about children’s safety. (Some buses whose drivers are members of a different union, or not unionized, are still running. The Department of Education is asking parents to call 311 or check its Web site for the status of particular routes.)
Court ruling or not, there should not be any employment guarantees, ever for any public employee. The guarantee of tenure for public school teachers in New York has been a scourge for decades, protecting the incompetent. The freedom to choose who you will or will not employ should be a basic right of any employer, public or private.
I remain in favor of unions’ rights to negotiate wages and certain benefits, like health care and pensions. But this right should be limited to wage floors, not ceilings. And basic work rules like length of school day and school year, and who gets hired and fired, should be off the table.
The fact that the working class parents of children, some severely disabled, have had this burden forced on them is disgraceful–and if it isn’t illegal, it should be.