The start of the school year brings an uncertain future for more than 1,200 union support staff in the Rochester City School District. They held a rally Friday to try and convince school district officials to keep them on the job. 

A large crowd of union workers took part. They’re the ones who drive kids to school, maintain buildings, feed students - and keep them safe.

“They were essential then and they're essential now,” Dan DiClemente, president of BENTE Local 2419 told the cheering crowd.

Because of a budget shortfall and the pandemic’s effect on state aid to the RCSD, more than 200 city school support jobs are at stake.

Ricky Hepburn, Sr. is a school safety officer with 36 years of experience on the job. He says SSO jobs are critical in schools.

"When these young people come into the Rochester City School District, we protect them,” said Hepburn. “Our life is in danger every day. Who gave them the right to want to fire anyone?"

With city school students learning remotely the first 10 weeks of the school year, buildings will stay closed. Some speakers became emotional when telling their stories of why their jobs are so critical.