After weeks of negotiation and uncertainty, the bus strike, which left thousands of students across multiple school districts without public transport has finally ended after union workers voted on Tuesday, Nov. 28 to ratify a new three-year contract.
The strike, which involved hundreds of Baumann Bus Company employees, and has affected local school districts, including; Baldwin, Freeport and Rockville Centre, reached its conclusion following a ratification vote wherein a majority of the union members voted to approve the new contract offered by the Baumann Bus Company.
“We’re happy that the ratification vote passed,” said Debra Hagan, president of Transport Workers Union Local 252. “It’s for a three-year term and has improvements in wages, improvements to days off, improvements to the charter rate pay, as well as increase in the 401K company contributions.”
This news comes as a relief to parents from the Baldwin School District, who had been forced to drive or make arrangements for alternative transport for their children to get to school.
“There are two sides basically,” said Elissa Kirchner, a Baldwin resident. “Parents have to get to work [and] do what they need to do, the other side of it is as a parent and a member of the Baldwin community, I want to stand behind our bus drivers. I want them to get the benefit and everything they need.”
She said she was glad the strike had ended, but that she’s “Only happy they’re back if they’re actually getting what they wanted.”
The bus company’s offer included raises, gains in sick leave and increase in the employer’s 401k contribution. “It’s never everything you’re looking for,” said Hagan. “But it certainly is addressing improvements in each area we were seeking.”
The Baumann busses will be operating on schedule for their districts, but the strike ended too late for the Rockville Centre School District, which voted to terminate the transportation contract with Baumann. Rockville Centre’s school board voted to allow 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.