NEW YORK – The city spent roughly $20.6 million in transit cards, taxis and gas mileage to get tens of thousands of stranded students to school during the monthlong bus strike, but some still didn’t get there at all, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Monday.
The 7,700 or so bus routes that serve the nation’s largest school district will resume Wednesday following midwinter recess, but routes for non-public schools will start today, Walcott said. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 ended its walkout on Friday evening after union leaders were assured by prospective New York City mayoral candidates that their concerns about job protection would be heard after this year’s election. They went on strike Jan. 16.
Walcott estimated the city saved $80 million because it wasn’t paying bus companies during the strike, which started over job protection issues. Local 1181 of the ATU wanted the city to include protections for current employees in future contracts with bus companies, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a court ruling prohibited the city from doing so.
Just 152,000 of New York City’s 1.1 million public schoolchildren ride yellow school buses, but many are disabled or have no other easy way to get to school.
Office supply chains exploring merger
NEW YORK – The Wall Street Journal is reporting that OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot Inc. are talking about combining their companies.
The newspaper, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, said Monday that talks are at an advanced stage, and an announcement could come as early as this week.
OfficeMax reports its fourth-quarter results on Thursday, while Office Depot is expected to report results next week. Representatives of both companies declined to comment on merger talks.
The office supply business is very competitive. Staples is a big player, along with Amazon and big discount stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart.
Boca Raton, Fla.-based Office Depot has about 1,675 stores worldwide, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. OfficeMax, based in Naperville, Ill., has about 900 stores in the U.S. and Mexico.
Protesters, police clash over Spain airline strike
MADRID – Protesters clashed with police at Madrid’s international airport as ground staff and cabin crews for Spain’s Iberia began 15 days of strikes to protest plans to lay off 3,800 staff.
The company, which is looking to cut jobs after it reported substantial losses last year, says the stoppages will lead to more than 1,200 flight cancellations over the next three weeks, including 236 the first day.
Police used batons to push back hundreds of protesters as they tried to enter the terminal at midday. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Other demonstrations took place at airports around the country.
A government decree on minimum services guarantees 90 percent of long-haul flights, 61 percent of medium-haul and 46 percent of domestic flights on stoppage days.
Unions representing most Iberia workers, but not pilots, have called the strikes between Feb. 18-22, March 4-8 and March 18-22.
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