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Drivers' Union, Bus Companies Demand Bloomberg Join Their Talks In Gracie Mansion

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TWC News: Drivers' Union, Bus Companies Demand Bloomberg Join Their Talks In Gracie Mansion
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Talks between school bus drivers and school bus companies ended with no progress Monday.

Former Judge Milton Mollen, 93, is back playing the part of mediator, as he did during the first bus drivers' strike in 1979, which lasted three months. He said this time around it may take a little longer for the strike to be settled.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 wants an Employee Protection Provision (EPP) included in any city contract up for bids in order to save their jobs.

City officials say they cannot cannot legally do that.

"It's another hot potato, I've had other hot potatoes," Mollen said.

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg set up the morning meetings at Gracie Mansion, he did not attend.

The union and the bus companies say he needs to be there.

"The mediator heard both sides of the argument. And he felt it was his duty to report back to the mayor who set up this meeting," said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello.

Afterwards, Cordiello repeated in a statement that while Monday's meeting was a "step in the right direction," the mayor and City Hall officials need to attend so all sides could "move towards a resolution and end this strike."

Peter Silverman, a representative of the school bus companies, echoed the point, saying, "We don't hold the keys to this strike. The city holds the keys to this. If the city gets involved, I think that would be productive and helpful."

The National Labor Relations Board is expected to rule on their challenge in the coming days.

More than 150,000 students have been affected by the strike.

The Department of Education says city public schools had an overall attendance rate of 91.3 percent, but only 67.5 percent of students attended District 75 (special needs) schools.

Throughout the entire strike, there has been about a reduction of roughly 20 percentage points in District 75 schools' attendance.

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