A surprise strike by Boston school bus drivers on Tuesday left only 30 buses running, forcing school and parents to spontaneously rearrange their schedule to accommodate children left in the lurch. The union drivers on strike stated that they had stopped working because thy were unsatisfied with how the city's school transportation contractor, Veolia, were handling issues such as healthcare benefits and payroll.
The strike is being described as a wildcat strike, according to The Boston Globe, which is one that is not authorized by the union which is United Steelworkers in this case. John Shinn, a USW district director, released a statement that "The USW does not condone the current action, or any violation of our collective bargaining agreement, and has instructed all members of Local 8751 to immediately cease this strike ... and resume work as soon as possible." Some workers tried to do so at the end of the school day but were not locked out of the bus yards by Veolia.
The city reported current statistics that 33,000 of the city's 57,000 students use the bus system, and though they were alerted to the strike around 5 a.m., absenteeism in the school system tripled to around 9,600 students. About 82% of students made it to school on Tuesday. Mayor Menino announced plans to have school open an hour early on Wednesday to accommodate parents.
Other resources besides parents and teachers were stretched thin during the strike, including police officers:
Police officers working the overnight shift were ordered to continue working and to scour the streets for kids left in the lurch by the strike. Scores of officers patrolled the streets, some of them just advising children what had happened and others actually giving them a lift.
“Kids had a ball, thought it was fun,” said one police officer.