School Bus Strike Vote Scheduled
If workers at Jofaz and Y&M vote to strike, work stoppage affecting thousands of students could begin November 1st
Employer seeking to shift all healthcare cost increases to school bus drivers and attendants
NEW YORK, NY – School bus drivers and attendants at Jofaz Transportation and Y&M Transit will hold a strike vote Wednesday night, Teamsters union officials announced today. After months of negotiations and two contract extensions, workers say they are fed up with their employer’s demand that workers shoulder all future healthcare cost increases.
Jofaz and Y&M are two of the largest school bus companies in New York City and share the same owner and the same union contract. The Department of Education contracts with the companies to provide special education and general education pupil transport in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
“These workers make a lot of sacrifices to care for our children every day and they deserve a fair paycheck and quality healthcare for their own children, too,” said Demos Demopoulos, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 553. “Everyone knows that healthcare costs are increasing faster than wages and have been for a long time. Any wage increase school bus workers get going forward could be eaten up by this healthcare plan.”
“No one wants a strike, but we are willing to walk off the job to stop Jofaz and Y&M from reducing healthcare benefits that are standard in this industry,” said Demopoulos. If workers vote to strike, the work stoppage would begin as soon as November 1st, the day after the current contract extension expires. It would involve about 900 workers and thousands of students.
“We are working-class families and simply cannot afford to pay these healthcare costs on the amount that Jofaz pays us,” said Lisa Cilone, a Jofaz school bus driver. “Workers are fed up and we are going to stick together until the company treats us with respect.”
After the union’s contract expired in June, Teamster leaders decided to extend the contract twice, hoping to reach an agreement without impacting students. “We’ve tried to work with the owner, but the company has been unwilling sign a fair contract for workers,” said Demopoulos.
Jofaz and Y&M workers are also unhappy with management’s proposal to take away five holidays, using New York City’s new Paid Sick Days law, which requires five paid sick days at all businesses, as an excuse.
“We are caring for kids all day, so any parent understands how easy it is to get sick in this job,” said Cilone. “We shouldn’t have to choose between holiday pay and taking a day when we are too sick to work.”
Teamsters Local 553 is one of two dozen Teamster local unions in the New York City area, representing 120,000 workers.
Contact: Alex Moore, email@example.com