When shipping a fragile package, people seem to go the extra mile to make sure their package is carefully wrapped so no damage is done when its on its way to the next destination. If people go that far and pay extra money for the safety of a package, wouldn’t you think people would go the complete extreme when pertaining to the most pressure cargo of all, their children?
Over 8,000 New York City bus drivers are going on their 3rd week of strike this week as New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is still rejecting any negotiations.
More than 100,000 children are left to find different means of transportation. Many parents feel abandoned by the drivers. However, those drivers, marching on picket lines in the freezing weather, feel abandoned by their city and their mayor. All of those drivers who are currently out of work are men and women with families of their own, now suffering and faced with unemployment; some drivers are close to their pensions.
New York City bus driver for 20 years in Staten Island, Rich Zelinksi (54), is anxious about the strike, “We are not striking with the intention of abandoning children,” Zelinski said. “No body is benefiting here, we are just trying to get by. I have three children, a mortgage and bills to pay. This is taking food off my families’ table.”
Mayor Bloomberg plans to bid the bus companies off to the lowest bidder in order to higher drivers for lower salaries and who are less qualified in order to save the city money. The problem is, no one truly knows if that money (which will not be much, considering the city will have to pay laid off drivers unemployment) will even go to education.
In 1979, a 13-week strike took place after bus drivers asked for job security, which created the Mollen Agreement. The agreement ensured uninterrupted and secure bus service until Bloomberg terminated the policy.
Besides unemployed drivers, children’s safety is the number one factor in the turmoil. “We are subject to many test and qualifications,” said Zelinski. “Just to name a few we have random drug test, passenger endorsements on our licenses, we are fingerprinted and go through vigorous training and testing.”
The only up side to all of this mess is that cab companies have seen a skyrocket in business within the past couple of weeks.
The strike seems to affect not only the drivers and children, but it threatens the entire working class throughout not just New York but also the United States. “It just goes to show how vulnerable every one is,” said Zelinski. “This is a prime example of the middle class being pushed aside. And those poor children, it will be impossible for bus companies to get the same quality of workers for cheaper.”
Questions are all up in the air: what happens to those close to their pension? What about drivers who are retired now? What about the children?
School bus workers are fighting not for a raise, for job security. Both the workers and the mayor are not budging and at the end of the day it is the thousands of children who are suffering and whose safety can be tragically jeopardized.