In the Arena

The Shame of New York School Bus Drivers

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.

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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.

29 comments
JayTee
JayTee

To support the bus drivers, go to http://t.co/W7Ncoyia . Also, do your brain a favor and don't be sadly misinformed by this "article".  You'll get far better information reading the comments below. 


BillPearlman
BillPearlman

Actually, they aren't public employees. These are private companies. Also, this union has traditionally been "mobbed up"

raccman
raccman

Tis the shame of the Union leaders to put their own avarice ahead of the safety of NYC school children ! Is there any wonder why unions are so unpopular and why folks are not joining them ? They are nothing more than pathetic vestiges of a by-gone era !  

grape_crush
grape_crush

More like, 'The Shame of Time Magazine's Joe Klein."

> ...even more shameful that they’re striking for the guarantee of employment

Jesus, Joe; take some time to research the issue or at least get a few different takes on the matter before opening your yap. Not everyone sees what you're seeing:

"Former Comptroller Bill Thompson blasted Mayor Bloomberg for removing employee protection provisions from the latest school bus contracts that are being sent out for bids. 'This is a misguided move on the part of the Mayor and the Department of Education,' he said at a press conference on Sunday afternoon. [...] Thompson said that protecting experienced drivers helps to maintain continuity on school bus routes. 'It is about safety, they know the routes, they know how to deal with our children,' he said. 

Mayor Bloomberg said that the courts have called the provisions illegal, but Public Advocate Bill De Blasio disagrees. 'There is no legal rationale for taking away these employee protection provisions,' he said. 

The officials who gathered on Sunday, including New York City Councilman and Chair of the Education Committee Robert Jackson and New York City Comptroller John C. Liu called the tactic penny-wise and pound-foolish, and that it was mistake to risk a driver strike over the issue."

Isn't part of your job having the time or inclination to provide a fuller picture than your biases provide, Joe? Using Teh Google is so easy, too, that I can't understand how you can be so...informationally-challenged. 

Here's more:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/172246/nyc-school-bus-drivers-strike-defense-job-security#

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/nyregion/nyc-asks-cuomo-to-veto-job-seniority-bill.html?_r=0



TerryClifton
TerryClifton

Dear Joe,


Now you're getting it...

Sincerely,

Scott Walker

Governor, State Of Wisconsin 

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

What is it exactly, that protects the incompetence at Time? I mean, it's not like there's any shortage of it. And that goes for Wall Street and Capital Hill in spades. And they do a little better than fourteen bucks an hour. It's our elites who are killing us, for a fat paycheck, not our public school bus drivers.

DrinkerOfTheRye
DrinkerOfTheRye

What's shameful Joe, is that we all can't strike for employment guarantees.  Think how much lower unemployment would be.

destor23
destor23

It's a shame that Joe Klein is using one of the country's most influential pulpits to rail against, of all people, working class school bus drivers.  These are the very disenfranchised people you should be trying to help, Joe.

SLOPEZ1231
SLOPEZ1231

@JOE... WHY BE SHOULD IT BE SHAME TO FIGHT FOR THE DRIVERS & MONITORS RIGHTS... IN CASE YOU DIDNT KNOW THERE ARE BUSES RUNNING DUE TO NO CONTRACT.  THEY ARE BEING ABUSE WITH OVER WORK A SCHEDULE FROM 6:00AM TO 6:30PM EVERYDAY FOR UNDER MINIMUM WAGE. IS THAT FAIR.  EVERY PERSON WORKING WANTS TO HAVE BENEFITS AND PROTECTION BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WE RELY ON WHEN WE GET OLDER AND CAN NO LONGER WORK.  FOR YOUR INFORMATION WE ARE FIGHTING FOR.....WHAT IS EPP??

EMPLOYEE Protection Provision..

The seniority provisions allow union bus drivers & monitors to move from one company to the next, keeping his or her pay and pensions when the company loss's its bid. 

WHY SHOULD I START ALL OVER IN A NEW COMPANY AFTER PUTTING 16 YEARS INTO  MY PENSION AND UNION????

16 YEARS OF TRAINING AND KNOWLEDGEABLE EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH CHILDREN WITH DISABILITY.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Shameful?

I don't like union contracts that prevent people from being laid off - especially when those contracts are structured so that more senior people are constantly protected from relieved even if there are younger members who are better.  In general, I dislike union contracts that actually prevent organizations from providing better services and better quality services (the one that drives me to gnash my teeth are the teachers unions that refuse to allow parent volunteers to help out in the classroom because that's supposed to be a union job - even though you will never have a person doing that work except the teacher receiving the help)

But to say it's shameful?  It's shameful to stand up for your rights as an employee?  It's shameful to try and protect yourself and your fellows?  Yes, they serve special needs children, but that doesn't automatically remove their rights and it shouldn't remove their rights.

vanoman
vanoman

Joe has discovered that the bus drivers are public employees. He should get on the phone immediately to his friend Mike Bloomberg, who says he can't negotiate with them because they work for private bus companies. It would be much more inspiring if we could see the multibillionaire take a real stand against these greed hounds instead of hiding behind a court ruling.

slowp
slowp

Yeah, Joe, look, I get it.  There are a lot of people who hate unions, and think public workers are the real problem in all municipal budgets.  A lot of them are your friends, colleagues, and readers.  That's cool: Everybody's entitled to their opinion.  Nonetheless, you should really know what you're talking about you start howling about how shameful these drivers are.

gysgt213
gysgt213

No one should worry about this post from Joe. He has no legal background nor the time to get one.

gysgt213
gysgt213

Joe:  What about those Hostess union bums.  Wanting to get paid and crap and having the never to ask where their pension money is.  Or how about all those non-union workers sucking all the profits out of Hobby Lobby and Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Those poor corporations with their wants for birth control and basic medical care.  Shame is too nice a word.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Joe, they're trying to secure rights for their job because the private bus company that employs them is up for re-bid with the city.  If they don't secure this and the company loses it's bid, you'd see all of these bus drivers laid off overnight.  This is hardly unfair, and frankly it's actually the responsible thing to do.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

School bus drivers? Really?! We can always count on you to use your high perch to put your finger squarely on the real evils that plague our society, Joe. Disgraceful sums it up nicely.

JayTee
JayTee

@raccmanI highly recommend you read the Nation's article (link provided below by @grape_crush ). I think you'd especially be able to relate to this part: 

"As Allison Kilkenny detailed yesterday, the initial response of New York City’s political class has been to place the blame on the amorphous category of “unions”–somehow independent of the workers that compose them–and to try to frame the debate as disabled children versus union thugs. Unsurprisingly, this narrative bears little correspondence to reality."  

 Try some more critical thinking, it will help stave off Alzheimer's :D

JayTee
JayTee

@grape_crush Bravo! Thanks for reminding me why I don't read Time Magazine.

@JoeKleinTIME insults one's intelligence! Of course, working for Time, I wouldn't expect critical, thoughtful analysis. So unfortunately, it isn't part of Klein's job to have "the time or inclination to provide a fuller picture than your biases provide".  He is doing what mainstream media wants him to do; follow orders, which I would be ashamed of. But were he to suddenly overcome his informational challenges, where would he work? There's only so many spots at Mother Jones et al., Our whole socioeconomic structure needs to change in order to have a real, democratic press. 

 In the meantime, I wish TIME would replace Klein with  @grape_crush whose answer was far more informative as I used "teh Google" to research this issue.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@SLOPEZ1231 

Please get off the caps lock.

I know it makes you feel like what you're saying is louder and more acutely heard, but it actually makes it less likely I'll read your post - it's actually much harder to read.  All caps lock does is make you look obnoxious and self-absorbed and that just doesn't help anybody.  Thanks.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@slowp

"....you should really know what you're talking about before you start howling..."

Why start now?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@gysgt213 

Nor does he have the time to actually read up on the situation at hand - that being that these buses will lose all their drivers if their parent company loses the re-bid anyways.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Ease up Shep, if you follow the link you'd see that those burdens on the NY school system start at the whopping sum of 14 bucks an hour.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@forgottenlord

I think he's upset, REALLY upset.  He/She might be one of those involved in this strike.

Typical "I Hate Unions" Joe Klein might have that effect on anybody!

gysgt213
gysgt213

@Paul,nnto This is $14 bucks an hour in NY city. That is an entire $28k a year.  You can live under a nice grate in the street there for that kind of money.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Exactly correct.

Anyone else find it ironic that a member of the pundit class is outraged about people wanting to not lose their jobs? I mean if any occupation has guaranteed employment it is our pundits.