Five years since New York City school bus strike
23 March 2018
Last month marked the fifth anniversary of the betrayal of the one-month-long strike by nearly 9,000 New York City school bus drivers, attendants, and mechanics against the private companies that contract with the city to provide transportation for over 150,000 students. The strike was provoked by billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose ripping up of the Employee Protection Provision (EPP) threatened workers with devastating economic losses.
EPP, in place for over four decades and successfully defended in a 16-week strike in 1979, guaranteed these workers continuity in seniority, wages and benefits, regardless of which private contractor employed them. The attack on the school bus workers was directed against public education itself. Bloomberg’s effort to substantially cut costs was part of an ongoing nationwide strategy of the financial and corporate elites to make the working class pay for the 2008 financial crash and the multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street.
The strike, coming after the unions had long been transformed into a labor police force to suppress the class struggle on behalf of the ruling class, expressed the determination of the whole working class to oppose austerity and defend their living standards. The strike generated popular support from millions of workers struggling each day to pay their bills in one of the most socially polarized cities in the world. This is why the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, and the rest of the city employee unions, including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), did everything they could to isolate and defeat the strike before it could become the catalyst for a far…