|New York City School Bus Grant|
On Wednesday November 15, 2017 President Daniel J. Gatto testified at the Small Business Services (SBS) hearing regarding the New York City Grant Program, along with a representative of New Dawn/National Express and New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick (District 4). Below is exact testimony given in the hearing by Teamsters Local 553. Political Coordinator Stephen Malone stated “everyone that testified all conveyed the same message, the grant programs is not the fix for removing the “EPP” (Employee Protection Provision) from the city school busing contracts.”
Teamsters Local 553 represents thousands of schools bus drivers, attendants, and mechanics in New York City.
We commend Mayor de Blasio and city officials for your commitment to reinstating the Employee Protection Provision in school bus contracts. When the Bloomberg administration removed this protection in 2013, it not only sparked a massive strike, it undermined good jobs and the safety of school children.
Bidding for school bus contracts has become a race to the bottom. We should all agree that we want decent wages and benefits for the people who transport our kids to school, because we want the most experienced and capable workers in those positions. That is not the system we have today.
In 2013, we warned that without the EPP, a low-road, non-union company could submit an irresponsibly low bid, and win. Experienced school bus workers would be replaced by inexperienced workers, and the modest wages and benefits that workers in this industry deserve would be unsustainable.
And that is exactly what happened. Reliant came from outside the City, put in an irresponsible bid, and the Bloomberg administration gave the company the largest share of routes.
The Employee Protection Provision should be restored, so that companies like Reliant will be held to a high standard. Until that point, Reliant’s unfair bid should not be subsidized.
Unionized companies lost out to Reliant because they submitted responsible bids. To then subsidize Reliant is unfair.
My members at school bus companies that have to compete with Reliant are the ones getting squeezed. Last year, we nearly went on strike at Jofaz over a few dollars of healthcare premiums. I understood where the company was coming from – the City was making them compete with Reliant – but my members shouldn’t have to pay the price. And parents and kids should not have to wonder whether the school bus is coming tomorrow.
The School Bus Driver Grant Program is not the solution. We need the Employee Protection Provision so that all school bus companies are held to a high standard. Rather than strikes and uncertainty, we should have stable jobs and high-quality service for students. We thank you for your commitment to restoring the EPP and we look forward to continued work to restore it.