VTA bus drivers authorize strike

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VTA bus drivers have authorized a strike if they can't reach a contract settlement.

After months of what they call fruitless negotiations, the union representing bus drivers for the Vineyard Transit Authority have voted to authorize a strike.

In a press release issued by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1548-Plymouth, the union warns that drivers will strike unless they reach a deal that meets the concerns of drivers and passengers.

Drivers are seeking fair discipline and due process, health and safety improvements, wage increases in line with the rising cost of living on Martha’s Vineyard, and dignity and respect on the job, according to the release.

Richard Townes, of the VTA drivers, told The Times that even with a federal mediator participating in negotiations, TCI, the parent company for the drivers, has refused to hand over key documents and continues to spend money fighting the union’s efforts instead of negotiating in good faith.

“We’ve sat down and only settled one thing,” Townes said. “They have no intention of reaching a contract.”

TCI president Ed Pigman and general manager Darren Morris did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the threat of a strike by the drivers.

Townes said there are negotiations ongoing Wednesday at the Oak Bluffs fire station.

“They don’t want to negotiate. They don’t want our union. The advisory board that’s overseeing the VTA is not doing its job,” Townes said. “We’re paying all these bills and we’re making no progress.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. Are the drivers also seeking/asking for some company while driving an empty bus all day?

  2. Dear SSc, VTA drivers are always seeking company on their routes. Every month is Hug-A-Driver Month! The empty bus issue is not lost on the drivers, please don’t blame it on them. It does stem from management still experimenting with routes, which results in not setting up a reasonable schedule that will be utilized by the riders. It is more obvious in the off seasons due to the shift in population, but once you say you’re going to send a bus from A to B and back at certain time to allow working people to get to their jobs, then you need to back that up with service. Seasonal adjustments by management, which may be an honest attempt to cut costs by putting fewer empty busses on the road, end up creating awkward schedules which often don’t fulfill the needs of the riders. You can still get around in the off seasons but it may take you a bit longer.

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