A labor dispute that has snarled bus service for 20,000 Nassau County students entered its second week Monday as school district officials explored hiring other companies to resolve the transportation crisis.
Talks between the Transport Workers Union Local 252 and Baumann & Sons Buses Inc. of Ronkonkoma broke down Friday after a daylong negotiating session with a federal mediator.
The union, comprising more than 300 bus drivers, monitors, and mechanics, has been on strike since Nov. 6. The drivers serve students in the Baldwin, Freeport, Hicksville and Rockville Centre school districts. Talks are scheduled to resume Tuesday with the federal mediator.
The Freeport district on Monday plans to use drivers from outside bus companies for the first time since the strike began, Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said Sunday.
Kuncham said the district over the weekend secured full coverage for students in the system’s five elementary schools, as well as for students bused to three private schools. The district is using a combination of service from Baumann employees, Oceanside-based Guardian Bus Co. and the First Student Bus Co., which maintains a Freeport bus yard.
“Hopefully if things work out, we are in much better shape” for the start of the week, Kuncham said. “Going forward after Tuesday, we really have to make some serious decisions.”
District officials plan to seek a request for proposals agreement “from various companies,” he said.
There was a long line of cars outside Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School in Freeport Monday morning, standing in an area typically reserved for school bus traffic.