Cuomo Vetoes Bus Driver Job Protection Bill

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Lucrative public school bus contracts in New York City rarely change hands, in part because of an obscure pro-union provision that requires any new company that wins a contract to hire employees from the company that lost the contract, at their same rate of pay.

But a years-long, city-backed effort to extend the same provision to contracts that cover busing for preschool-aged students appears to be dead-- at least for now.

On Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have required companies that drive preschoolers to place the same job guarantees, known as Employee Protection Provisions, in their contracts with the city.

In a legal case that had ascended to the state highest courts, city lawyers had spent years defending the measures as better for children and necessary to ensure "labor peace" -- even if they might raise costs. But in a surprise turn-about in July, city lawyers sent Mr. Cuomo a letter asking him to veto the bill.

Set against the backdrop of a city and nation that has grown increasingly strident in its relationships with public unions, the reversal surprised and angered the sponsoring legislators and union leaders. City Hall explained its change of heart by saying that the language of the bill had been tweaked to make the provisions mandatory, not optional.

Now eyes will be on the union, Local 1181 of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., to see if there is a response. For years, the city warned that the union might strike if the contracts were bid without the employee protections.

But in July union officials clarified: the real risk of a strike would be if the protections were removed from the regular school bus contracts, too. Bus drivers had held a bitter three-month long strike in 1979 when the protections were threatened.

Here's the veto: