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Berkshire County Paratransit Drivers Strike For Higher Wages

A Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus.
David Wilson
Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/davidwilson1949
A Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus

Paratransit drivers with Berkshire Regional Transit Authority are walking the picket line after failed contract negotiations over wages.

The drivers work for Paratransit Management of the Berkshires, a subsidiary of First Transit, which operates the vehicles for the BRTA. The drivers pick up and drop off people with disabilities.

Frank Rossi, president of Teamsters local 404, said the company is not recognizing the importance of the work done by the drivers, dispatchers and schedulers.

“We will continue to try to keep a line of communications open with the company,” Rossi said, “to see if there is some common ground that we can reach and revote if there is a new offer.” 

Robert Malnati of the BRTA said bus drivers on fixed bus routes are honoring the strike and won't cross the picket line. Only a quarter of the bus routes are operating — with buses driven by supervisors.

Malnati said the Transit Authority has contracted with other companies to replace the striking paratransit drivers.

“As long as there’s a strike involving paratransit, the other vendors will be providing that work for us, and the fixed route will continue being a limited service for right now,” Malnati said.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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