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UFT: Mayor guilty of ‘union-busting’ in bus strike

Carmen AlvarezCarmen Alvarez UFT Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez delivered the UFT’s strong support for striking yellow school bus drivers and matrons at a City Council hearing on the strike held on Feb. 8. Hundreds of concerned parents, community activists, representatives from various unions and the strikers themselves attended the hearing called by the Council’s education and finance committees.

Speaking as part of a panel of labor leaders, Alvarez described the mayor’s refusal to negotiate with the school bus employees’ union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, as “union-busting — and there is no other way to look at it.”

“He’s not practicing sound fiscal management,” Alvarez said. “He’s trying to take away the dignity of these workers and to bust this union whose members care for our children.”

Alvarez took the mayor to task for insisting that he’s “only a bystander” who is “unable to intervene” in the strike. “We beg to differ,” she said.

She also castigated Bloomberg for “crowing” about how much money the city is saving during the strike.

“The fact that District 75 attendance is down 16 percent from February of last year is hardly something to celebrate, any more than the financial hurt being endured by the hardworking bus drivers and matrons,” she said.

Alvarez offered the union’s support to parents filing complaints with the State Education Department against the city Department of Education for its failure to provide a “free and appropriate public education” to students with disabilities.

Michael Cordiello, the president of ATU Local 1181, also spoke on the panel, blasting the mayor for unnecessarily prolonging the strike by refusing to meet with the union.

“It’s not about money. It’s not about laws, legality or illegality,” Cordiello said of the mayor’s motivation for attacking the union. “It’s about pushing workers’ wages down to poverty levels because that’s where they want them to be.”

Cordiello also emphasized the importance of having experienced bus drivers behind the wheel, saying that the job security and seniority measures the mayor is attempting to remove from future contracts are a big part of why New York has one of the safest school busing systems in the country.

Read Alvarez’s full testimony >>

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