The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) through BRTA’s management company First Transit has negotiated in good faith with all of our drivers, schedulers, and dispatchers. We continue to be open and available to negotiate with the paratransit drivers, as we have done with our fixed route bus drivers. Berkshire Transit Management (BTM), fixed route bus service, successfully negotiated a new 3-year contract with the fixed route bus operators for the contract period starting July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021. Members of BTM operate all of the BRTA buses that traverse Berkshire County.
While the fixed route bus drivers and BTM have a contract in place, the negotiations with the paratransit drivers has affected the fixed route bus service. BTM supervisors and employees have stepped in to provide service to our riders but regretfully without a full contingent of fixed route bus drivers. This service is limited and is very unfair to the riders throughout Berkshire County who depend on the bus every day.
Paratransit Management of Berkshire (PMB), paratransit service, began the negotiation process in June for a new 3-year contract with the paratransit operators, schedulers, and dispatch personnel. Negotiations continued through November with an offer presented to the membership of the paratransit union in December. The offer provided a 16% increase to fulltime paratransit operators and a 19.6% increase to part time paratransit operators, along with an increase in paid time off and other allowances for all drivers over the 3-year duration of the contract. Unfortunately, the union members rejected this offer on Sunday, December 2 and the strike began Monday, December 3.
This is a disappointing situation where the paratransit division is impacting the fixed route division which has a current contract to work. Currently, the lines of communication remain open to hopefully resolve this strike quickly.