Louis Paciello resigned from the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) advisory board Monday.
Paciello, owner of the Depot Market and the Shell gas station in the Airport Business Park in Edgartown, was Edgartown’s appointed representative on the board.
“It is with regret that I tender my resignation from the Vineyard Transit Authority Advisory Board, effective immediately,” Paciello wrote in his resignation letter. “I am grateful for having been able to serve the town in this capacity for many years. Unfortunately due to the time commitments of family and work and my other volunteer positions, I can no longer commit the time needed in this position.”
When town administrator James Hagerty informed selectmen at their meeting Monday, several VTA drivers who were in the audience were shocked.
Paciello did not return calls seeking comment.
The VTA advisory board is made up of one member from each Island town. There are also two vacant seats on the board, which are the Rider Community Representative seat and the Disabled Community Representative seat.
Hagerty could not give a definitive timeline for when a new representative would be chosen, but said the position would have to be advertised for a couple of weeks.
Paciello’s resignation comes as the VTA drivers head into the second week of a strike, demanding better healthcare, better hourly wages, and fair treatment from their parent company, Transit Connection Inc.
Richard Townes, who is one of the drivers on strike, said he was sad to see Paciello leave the board.
“He tried to do his job of overseeing the VTA, and was silenced every time he tried. He will be missed. He was a good representative for Edgartown,” Townes said.
Selectman Margaret Serpa said the board, “had not anticipated this resignation.”
The meeting room was filled with VTA drivers who gathered to update selectmen on the strike for the second week in a row.
VTA drivers Andre Bonnell and Charles Smith again asked selectmen for support during the strike. Smith gave selectmen a summary of the United States Court of Appeals 11th circuit decision between the drivers’ parent company Transit Connection Inc. (TCI) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The court decided in April 2018 that TCI engaged in unfair labor practices by mailing union literature to physical addresses instead of Post Office boxes and claiming drivers threatened “to kill” each other if they did not join the union.
Hagerty clarified that the town does not pay money directly to the VTA.
“It’s a state assessment, so the state divvies out how much is going to be assessed for regional transportation agreements,” Hagerty said. “It’s not a warrant article…that says hey, we’re going to give the VTA X amount of dollars annually.”
Updated with more details.