2005-01-07 / Community

Union Says Green Bus Workers May Go On Strike Monday

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

  • Bus workers are gearing up for another strike that will begin Monday if their unions do not hear from the city’s Office of Labor Relations, a union source told The Wave at press time on Thursday.
  • The move could leave thousands of commuters in Rockaway – and elsewhere – dealing with additional drudgery as the workweek kicks off.

    “The city isn’t speaking with us. We have no choice,” said Rosemary Greenwood of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1179, which represents Green Bus Lines. Local 1181, which represents Command Bus Company is expected to join them. The unions will go on strike if talks aren’t re-established, Greenwood said with just one business day left in the week for the city to avert a commuter nightmare.

    Two weeks ago, workers at Command voted overwhelmingly for a strike. Union members at Green Bus followed suit the day after.

    “We have families, and all we’re asking for are our pension and welfare benefits to stay in tact when the MTA takes us over. That’s all,” said Salvatore Battaglia, president and business agent for Local 1181, told Eyewitness News at the time.

    Almost 200 drivers at Command staged a sickout – then Green Bus mechanics began reporting massive problems with the buses. By mid-day, all Green Buses were off their routes.

    Jamie Van Bramer said that Green Bus drivers and mechanics are “going over the buses with a fine tooth comb” to find problems to justify temporary decommission. But the inconvenience to straphangers is a concern. “It didn’t provide us any opportunity to notify riders,” Van Bramer continued.

    The city says the two companies serve 70,000 riders in Queens and Brooklyn and some say those numbers are even greater.

    “[Green Bus] makes 120,000 trips a day,” said Van Bramer, who estimated the total number of riders inconvenienced is closer to 135,000. “It could be 60,000 people, but most people make two trips. Command makes 15,000 trips a day.”

    Jamar Hayes, who drives a Green Bus in Rockaway, spoke with The Wave as the last strike loomed.

    “[We’re] going out for a cause. If we don’t fight for what we want and we settle for less…they’re trying to take over and throw us anything. Now, we pay $10 toward our benefits. Now they want $50 out of our check. What MTA [workers] pay,” Hayes said, and stressed that any job action is against the city, not the riders.

    “People feel their jobs are threatened,” he continued. Hayes conceded that a strike would be a hindrance to riders. One such rider is Delores Bailey of Beach 54 Street.

    “I would have to take the train around Brooklyn to get to Jamaica,” said Bailey, who rides the Q22. An alternative route, she said, would add between 15 and 30 minutes to her trip.

    The new deadline for the MTA to takeover Green Bus, Jamaica Bus, Triboro Coach and Command Bus is April 30.

    A posting on the city’s website www.NYC.gov advises anyone affected by the disruption in bus service to take alternative mass transportation, commuter vans or car services. The city authorized licensed vans to pick up passengers along the B100, Q6, Q10, Q11 and Q40 routes.

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