By Brendan O'Brien
Feb 12 (Reuters) - Three bus companies have filed a lawsuit
against the New York City Department of Education, alleging that
job security protections in their contracts are illegal and give
competitors an unfair advantage.
Lonero Transit Inc, Staten Island Bus Inc and Pioneer
Transportation Corp on Friday filed an Article 78 petition in
New York State Supreme Court. They are seeking to block the
enforcement of so-called "employment protection provisions" in
their contracts, which deal with the transportation of special
The provisions require the city to hire from a seniority
list of drivers and workers who have been laid off, a list
administered by the Department of Education.
The lawsuit comes three weeks into the city's first school
bus drivers' strike in three decades.
In 2011, the New York Court of Appeals held that the
employment protection provisions were illegal because they were
Since then the city has taken the position that it can no
longer include them in school bus contracts, Friday's lawsuit
The city, however, has maintained the provisions are legal
in existing contracts, according to the lawsuit. The provisions
apply to drivers and workers not only for routes operating when
the contracts were awarded but also for routes awarded
Bus companies entering new contracts with the city are free
of the provisions, while the 40 or 50 companies with current
contracts are not, according to Steven Shore, of Ganfer & Shore,
who represents the bus companies.
"All we are seeking is a level playing field. We want to
have the same obligations that everyone else has," Shore said.
In addition to seeking to enjoin the provisions, the bus
companies have asked the court to bar the Department of
Education from awarding new contracts until the provisions are
removed from existing contracts.
"We just received a copy of the lawsuit and are in the
process of reviewing it," said Elizabeth Thomas, a spokeswoman
for the New York City Law Department.
The issue of employment protection provisions came to a
head in December, when the Department of Education announced a
request for bids for an upcoming contract to transport 22,500
children with special needs to school.
For the first time in 34 years, the city did not offer the
protection provisions in the request, triggering the bus
drivers' strike on Jan. 16.
The bus companies unsuccessfully requested that the city
remove the provisions from existing contracts on Jan. 4 and Jan.
The case is Staten Island Bus, Inc, Lonero Transit Inc, and
Pioneer Transportation Corp, Petitioners, against The New York
City Department of Education, Respondent.
For the bus companies: Steven J. Shore, Ira Brad Matetsky
and William D. McCracken of Ganfer & Shore.
For the department of education: The New York City Law
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook