Two busloads of Local 100 members joined our dedicated Political Action team in Albany in the final days of the legislative session to push three bills that have high priority: vision zero, the veteran’s pension bill, and a bill for school bus disciplinary fairness. Two advanced to win passage in one house; the third awaits Governor Cuomo’s signature.
Vision Zero easily grabbed the most media attention: a high-profile dust-up that pitted the Union, arguing for de-criminalizing Bus Operators in accident situations -- against Mayor de Blasio and holdouts on the New York City Council. Bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives started the mud-slinging, saying Local 100 was looking for a “license to kill” on the roads – a complete distortion of our position, which was simply that fairness demands an accident investigation before charges are brought or arrests are made – particularly in cases where there is no obvious negligence or recklessness on the part of the Bus Operator.
It was wonderful to hear – as did 40 Bus Operators in the State Senate gallery on Tuesday – legislator after legislator coming to the defense of TWU members in bus accidents, declaring that an accident is not evidence of guilt, and affirming the safety record of the MTA. The State Senate voted 54 to 6 to support our amendment to the Vision Zero law, forbidding the arrest of a Bus Operator on the scene of an accident where there is no reckless behavior. But the Assembly adjourned without bringing the bill to the floor for debate. At this writing, the union continues to fight for fairness with direct action at the City Council and at City Hall.