Although the bus drivers and matrons of Transport Workers Union Local 252 on Thursday morning continued their strike against Baumann Bus Company that began on Nov. 6, the union announced that it would provide bus service to schools in the affected districts.
According to a statement from the union, “Now that we have won gains on our top priorities, with a contract offer including guaranteed weeks and higher pay for chartered school trips, our members at Baumann Bus Company have begun to return to work.”
Debra Hagan, president of Local 252, told the Herald that the move wasn't an end to the strike, which has affected thousands of students in the Baldwin, Freeport, Rockville Centre and Hicksville school districts, but a “stay.”
“The Union members have returned to work in anticipation of receiving the company’s proposal this Friday at the union meeting,” Hagan said. “Go back to work, get the children back to school on buses, and put it in the hands of the members to let them review what’s been proposed, and determine whether they want to bring it to a ratification vote.”
Local 252 will bring Baumann’s latest offer to the membership on Friday. The offer also includes raises, gains in sick leave and increase in the employer’s 401k contribution.
Baldwin schools have been able to reinstate all routes, including one late bus at both the middle and high schools. According to a statement on the district’s website, Baumann notified the schools that it would be able to complete its contractually obligated routes. However, the district has decided to continue using all additional transportation, including the Guardian Bus Company, along with Baumann buses during today’s normally scheduled runs.
The Freeport School District said on its website that Baumann would be providing full bus service on Friday to students attending Leo F. Giblyn School, Bayview Avenue School and Archer Street School. Arrival and dismissal times would be as regularly scheduled, the statement added, and there would no longer be a 15-minute delay.
The Rockville Centre Board of Education voted on Tuesday night to terminate the transportation contract with Baumann, allowing Guardian buses to provide full interim coverage for all in-district schools — including St. Agnes, Chaminade, Kellenberg, and Sacred Heart — until a contract from a Request for Proposals is awarded.
The Bus Company and the Union are set to meet for further negotiations on Nov. 28.
The Herald will continue to update this story.