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Update: Crisis averted; bus drivers approve new contract

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Update, Oct. 16: Union bus drivers that work for Baumann & Sons Buses Inc./Acme Bus Corp., overwhelmingly approved a new 3-year contract today, Monday, union officials announced.

The deal avoids a strike that would have affected some 15,000 students across Long Island, including 250 in the Bayport-Blue Point School District and another dozen students in Patchogue-Medford.

The secret ballot saw the contract that was agreed to between the company and the union’s negotiating committee approved by a margin of 84 percent to 16 percent.

”Our members increasingly saw the power working people have if they support one another in a fight for greater economic justice,” Lynch said. These employees would not back down until enough progress toward that justice was accomplished.

“The majority strongly felt that considering this tough economy, we got what was needed.”

The company and the union had been in a protracted dispute over pay and benefits.

Update, Oct. 19: The bus drivers with Teamsters Local 1205 and the Baumann & Sons Buses Inc./Acme Bus Corp. have reached a tentative deal, and the strike that had appeared imminent is being put on hold, according to a joint press release issued by the union and bus company Monday night.

The union drivers, which rejected the company’s latest offer this weekend, still have to vote on the new deal.

Had the strike happened, the families of some 250 students in the Bayport-Blue Point School District and another dozen students from Patchogue-Medford contracted through BOCES would have been without transportation.

In total, some 15,000 students across Long Island would have been affected.

“The parties worked together to find solutions, to address the difficulties of this business, and to resolve differences. I am pleased with the end result of all our hard work, as it provides many improvements to the membership’s terms and conditions of employment, while at the same time attempting to address the legitimate needs of the business,” said the union’s president, Timothy Lynch, in a statement.

He said he could confidently recommend ratification of the new agreement.

“The agreement will allow us to focus our efforts on customer service,” saidsaid Ron Baumann, the bus company’s president. “It is time to move forward so that Baumann & Sons Buses, Inc./Acme Bus Corp. can continue to provide safe and secure service to our customers and the students we provide transportation for.”

Bayport-Blue Point administrators had said no other bus drivers would have crossed the picket lines.

Update, Oct. 17: In a vote, bus drivers with the Baumann & Sons Buses Inc./Acme Bus Corp. narrowly rejected the company’s latest contract offer and have indicated a strike “may be imminent,” according to a notice posted on the Bayport-Blue Point School District website.

The contract was rejected by a vote of 293, or 49.24 percent, in favor and 302, or 50.76 percent, against.

Families of the 250 students served by the company are being urged to find alternative means of transportation, the notice reads. The district will be providing earlier supervision for children getting dropped off earlier than usual. Click here for more details.

Original story, Oct. 15: With a possible bus driver strike looming, about 250 Bayport-Blue Point students and their families are being urged to prepare to find other ways to school next week.

“This weekend, the transportation union will be voting on what the bus company calls its final contract offer,” reads an urgent message posted to the district website Thursday. “As the outcome of this vote remains unknown, the district urges any families that would be affected by a potential strike to begin to plan accordingly.”

It looks like there’s little the district can do to help.

“The drivers for other transportation companies are unwilling to cross the picket lines,” the notice reads. “As a result, we are unable to secure alternate busing.”

The bus drivers’ union, Teamsters Local 1205 and the island-wide bus company, Baumann & Sons Buses Inc./Acme Bus Corp., have been in a labor dispute since before the school year started.

The union, according to news reports, is fighting with the company for more pay and better working conditions.

The 250 students that might be left without a bus makes up about 63 percent of the almost 400 children who use buses in the district, with most of the potentially affected students being enrolled in the middle school.

The district will be updating the matter over the weekend on its website, www.bbpschools.org.

Should a strike occur, the district will provide earlier supervisor for students who are eligible for bus services.

Parents may drop their child(ren) off at the following times:

Academy Street:  8:15 am
Sylvan Avenue School:8:15 a.m.
Blue Point School: No students affected
Middle School  7:00 a.m.
High School 7:00 a.m.

District officials urge any parents with questions to call the transportation office at 631-472-7860, ext. 8095.

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

Featured photo: Creative Commons stock images

 

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com