Unions vs. Our Kids

People who spend any time in New York City quickly inure themselves to the vicissitudes of everyday life. But even the hard-of-heart have found it difficult to respond to the personal accounts of the thousands of families that have been dislocated by the decision of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union to initiate a school bus strike this past Wednesday. Some 8,800 drivers and matrons, whose incomes average about $35,000 per year, went on strike, shutting down about 70 percent of the City’s 7,700 school bus routes.

The dispute centers on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to introduce a system of competitive bids that would allow the City to find some lower-price providers. As the AP reports, there is a lot of running room for financial improvement because of the grim statistics of the schools’ position. New York City has 1.1 million public schoolchildren—which means that a citywide operation is likely to suffer from major diseconomies of scale. Of these students, some 152,000 ride yellow school buses.

In their ranks are 54,000 children who suffer from a variety of disabilities. Many of them are in wheelchairs. Others suffer from disabilities like severe autism that make it impossible for them to travel to school alone in safety. Their attendance at school was down sharply in the wake of the strike. Their parents are faced with the tragic choice of staying home from work, finding untested temporary care, or using awkward public transportation or expensive private services to get their children to school … continue reading at Defining Ideas

  1. Nick Stuart

     

    Richard Epstein: … Their parents are faced with the tragic choice of staying home from work, finding untested temporary care, or using awkward public transportation or expensive private services to get their children to school…continue reading at Defining Ideas.  · · 14 minutes ago

    So it goes if the purpose of the government school system is to provide day care. People structure their lives around getting free stuff, then find themselves hostage to it.

    At some point the money will simply run out, period.

    The choices at that point will be a lot more tragic than having to stay home or hire a cab.

  2. Ross C

    I was also struck by the entitlement culture at play here, not just by the unions but by the public.  It is not enough that I am offered free schooling for my child, I also cannot be bothered to get them to school.  Oh and I cannot be bothered to prepare food for them either (the US is about halfway there on that).  I can understand that the principle of specialization of labor may make it economically advantageous to have some folks ferry kids to school while the kids parents go to higher paying jobs (rather than waiting in carpool), but nonetheless I find the entitlement culture disgusting.

  3. Ross C

    On another track, is this an example of what Rob Long posted on the other day where we hang on to old ways of doing things because we are stuck in the mud, doing things the old ways out of habit alone?

    Who would have guessed that only 1 in 8 students would ride a school bus and that 1 in 3 of those would be special needs?  This seems like you could almost get rid of school buses and no one would notice.

    I would think that in a city like NYC that you could issue transportation vouchers of some sort in lieu of operating a fleet of yellow buses.

  4. Goldgeller

    It’s really crazy. Money is getting tight so everyone is fighting over their “share.” Interestingly enough, I just read on Walter Russell Mead’s blog that NYC debt has doubled under Bloomberg.  But hey, the last thing you want to do is cut the money for school bus drivers, because, “don’t you care about the children?”  

    Nick Stuart:  

    At some point the money will simply run out, period.

    The choices at that point will be a lot more tragic than having to stay home or hire a cab. · 1 hour ago

    Exactly right. 

  5. Sabrdance

    I imagine there is something, but I’m curious what is stopping the school district from firing the drivers.  Does New York extend the right to strike to school bus drivers even if they are government employees?  Or do school bus drivers not count as employees for such provisions?  Or something else?

  6. Richard Fulmer

    Unions are not organized against management; they are organized against consumers and other workers.  Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson should be required reading for all Americans.

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