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Mayor Bill De Blasio Defends Raises For School Bus Drivers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio justified Monday giving school bus employees raises through the parceling out of city grant money to school bus companies, noting the workers' compensation had been cut by the Bloomberg administration.

"These are not high-paid workers," de Blasio told reporters, including WCBS 880's Rich Lamb. "We expect them to protect our children, and yet the modest pay and benefits they were getting were going to be greatly undermined. And as we saw that unfold coming into this year, we realized it was unacceptable, and action had to be taken."

There has been some grumbling about using public money to subsidize the salaries of private company workers.

De Blasio Defends Raises For School Bus Drivers

But the mayor said he does not see the move as precedent-setting.

"I think this is a very particular situation because of the extraorindary actions taken by the previous administration," de Blasio said

Last week, the City Council passed a bill that will establish city grants to raise pay as well as rehire experienced drivers and other school bus employees who lost their jobs or had their incomes drastically cut at the end of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's last term.

The total grant money will be capped at $42 million and will go to 16 eligible school bus companies.

In 2013, there was a monthlong school bus strike after Bloomberg demanded contract reforms to save the city money.

De Blasio and City Council allies say veteran bus drivers' salaries have dropped from around $45,000 to $25,000 per year, and as a result it was time to reverse the Bloomberg reforms.

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