One may think the cheers heard from New York City are from school kids happy that all school buses are now running again but indeed all New Yorkers should be celebrating the victory of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg against Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181. 9,000 New York City school unionized drivers have been on strike, inconveniencing 113,000 school kids and their families, and now the strike is over with the city’s largest school bus drivers union agreeing to return to work.
New York City isn’t an easy place to challenge unions – especially in the dead of winter and when kids are involved. But Bloomberg did it and thankfully he won. The strike was sparked by Bloomberg’s decision to allow open and competitive bidding on NYC school bus contracts for the first time in 33 years to reduce costs and adapt to changed needs. As a New York City tax-payer I say thank you Mr. Bloomberg. These absurdly high costs are covered by hard-working tax-payers.
As even the liberal New York Times reported, NYC school buses kids cost almost $7,000 a year for each bus passenger. Comparatively, Los Angeles spends $3,200, Chicago $5,000, and Miami $1,000. The union’s strike offended many New Yorkers, reeking of entitlement. In what sane world is pricing not competitive – and why would anyone think they have the right to be guaranteed work?
Taxes in New York City are already absurdly out of control. As Mayor Bloomberg explained when refusing to meet the drivers “The terms of the bid are clearly only price, and we’ve got to get the best price for the city. We have an obligation to save the taxpayers’ money.” How could any sane person possibly object to that statement? In the greatest capitalist city in America how can anyone believe free-market economics to be wrong?
NYC school bus drivers are paid for eight hours of work each day, while few drive more than five or six hours, and many of the senior drivers with the highest wages work the fewest number of hours. Bloomberg rightfully refused to force winning bidders to hire union workers, and sent the very clear message that the best man will be employed for the job, not a system of entitlement.
As Bloomberg said “…the end of this strike reflects the fact that when we say we put children first, we mean it.” He is absolutely right as business is about being competitive. New York State is already ranked by The Tax Foundation as the worst state in the nation to start a business. New Yorkers who earn six-figures can expect to pay more than 50% in taxes between federal, state and local taxes. Business is about being competitive every single day, and those of us who pay taxes have no guaranteed income – why should bus drivers?
In a recent issue of the New York Post, the President of the Local 1181 union is quoted as telling his members, “This war is not over.” It is the one point on which I will agree with the union. As a lifelong New York resident, and entrepreneur of a PR firm I agree this war is not over. We will not sit down and allow someone to be paid a full day’s wage if they don’t work a full day.
Decent, hard working Americans will insist and demand that prices are competitive and fair, and ensure that everyone is made aware that job protection is a non-capitalist concept. This union wants to take advantage of New Yorkers and we won’t stand it.
Thank you Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
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