A wildcat strike by school bus drivers in Boston stranded tens of thousands of Boston public school students this morning. Mayor Thomas Menino’s office announced that schoolchildren would be able to use their identification cards to ride city buses for free, and parents and police officers have been ferrying some children to school. Steve Kirschbaum, chairman of the grievance committee for United Steelworkers Local 8751, which represents the drivers, told the Boston Globe that drivers are frustrated by their employer, third-party vendor Veolia:
He said the drivers’ grievances include changes in their health-care plan and the company’s failing to provide “key route information to the drivers and not communicating with the drivers in a coherent way, resulting in a decline in the timeliness and quality of bus service being provided to students and their families.”
“We don’t have any of the tools to provide safe and timely transportation,’’ he said.
City officials, including the mayor, condemned the drivers’ actions:
“This is about the safety of our students. I will not allow them to jeopardize their education or safety. . . . The bus drivers have a contract, a very good contract,” Menino said. “If you don’t want to follow the rules, you go to extremes and the bus drivers have gone to extremes.”
Menino said he is heading to City Hall to make sure buses run on time tomorrow and to meet with his legal team.
It is not clear how long the strike will last, or whether students will have to find another way of getting home this afternoon or back to school tomorrow morning.
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