NEW YORK (AP) — The monthlong school bus strike that affected tens of thousands of children in the nation's largest school district ended Friday, after union leaders were assured by prospective New York City mayoral candidates that their concerns would be heard after this year's election.
Leaders of the Amalgamated Transit Union said service for New York City schools would resume Wednesday, when classes resume following mid-winter recess.
Some 8,000 bus drivers and aides walked off the job Jan. 16 over job protection issues. Local 1181 of the ATU wanted the city to include protections for current employees in future contracts with bus companies, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a court ruling prohibited the city from doing so.
"Though our strike has been suspended, the principles that we fight for remain pressing issues that the city will have to address," said local union president Michael Cordiello.
The school bus companies said in a statement they were relieved the "pointless" strike was over, and still must work on a collective bargaining agreement with the union.
The school bus strike was the first in the city since 1979. About 5,000 of the city's 7,700 routes were affected.
Just 152,000 of New York City's 1.1 million public schoolchildren ride yellow school buses, but the cost of busing students has risen from $100 million in 1979 to $1.1 billion today.
Many of the students affected were disabled. Parents and students said Friday they would welcome the walkout's end.
Gwendolyn Hamilton was recruited to ferry two of her grandchildren to different schools on Staten Island. "I'll be so glad it's over, you don't know," Hamilton said, flashing a broad smile.
Her grandson Tyshon Ellzy transferred to Public School 20 on Staten Island from a school in Brooklyn because of the strike. Had he stayed in Brooklyn, the fourth grader would have had to take public transportation on his own. He said he likes his new school but "I'd rather go on the school bus."
Amadou Andiye has been paying someone to take his two children to the Staten Island Community Charter School by city bus each morning because at ages 5 and 7 they're too young to take public transit alone.