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RELIEF: Tentative agreement reached between NYC school bus drivers' union, 5 big companies

Tentative agreement reached, NYC school bus drivers' strike averted
Tentative agreement reached, NYC school bus drivers' strike averted 02:01

NEW YORK -- There is good news for students and parents in the city -- the school bus strike has been averted.

After an anxious month, there was relief on Thursday morning as the bus drivers' union and five bus companies reached a tentative agreement.

However, there is still some work to be done.

"The sun was brighter. My coffee tasted better," said Gisselle Ramirez, a parent of special needs children.

The Department of Education estimated that 86,000 city students, including 27,000 with special needs, would have been affected by a strike. The news was a big relief to Ramirez and Doris Attah, who are the mothers of special needs students.

"We're just really, really grateful to everyone involved for putting our children first," Ramirez said.

"With the strike, I don't know what my life would have been. I'm a working mother and I'm dealing with an autistic child," Attah said. "When I put Amanda in the school bus, she's safe. She's going to school. Then I can go on and do my morning routine and head back to work and not be late."

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Ramirez and Attah said they're happy for the bus drivers.

The five-year collective bargaining agreement includes guarantee of weeks of employment for all employees, restoration of wage accrual and shorter progression to top pay. It also adds individual medical coverage for workers after 90 days and family medical coverage after two years.

Though they weren't negotiating directly with the city, officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, had been closely involved. Schools Chancellor David Banks expressed relief on Thursday morning.

"Thank goodness. We seemingly have averted a strike," Banks said on NY1.

A City Hall spokesperson said in a statement, "When labor and management come to the table in a spirit of mutual cooperation, we can achieve meaningful results for all New Yorkers."

The tentative agreement still needs to be voted on and ratified. Three smaller bus companies are still negotiating.

"The big companies are the ones that really drive this, and we feel very confident that everybody else will be just fine," Banks said.

Just the threat of a strike had its consequences. Bus driver meetings in the weeks leading up to the school year didn't happen. It's in those meetings that drivers choose their routes based on seniority. So even with buses running, parents told CBS New York there have been more than just the usual hiccups to start the school year.

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